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Sue Anstiss - A book, a documentary and a whole load of dedication to women's sport!

Sue Anstiss is CEO of Fearless Women, an organisation driving positive change in women’s sport and Co-director and Producer of the documentary “Game On: The Unstoppable Rise of Women’s Sport” which is available on Netflix. Sue sat down with us to talk about her book, her film and her lifetime of dedication to women's sport WATCH IT HERE!!!

Sue Anstiss film director sits in a studio with cameras and microphones around her
The Master Interview

Women’s sport has always been important to me because of the bigger impact it has more broadly across society. That’s what really makes me want to keep driving change and to keep working in this space. I think having had three daughters has also helped me recognise the challenges they’ve faced growing up as young women and as I’ve aged, I’ve definitely begun to look back at my own experiences in my life and appreciate the gender injustices more starkly across society. I think everyone can have impact and drive change

today. I look at some of the issues my own kids are talking about now, and the action they’re taking. I look at young women calling for change in the sector today, and I think, ‘Wow, I’m 57, and it’s taken me this long to be able to see some of those inequalities, to see what I could be doing to drive change’

A packed cinema ask questions to 4 members of a panel on a stage in front of a cinema screen
Question time at the London Premiere of Game On

I do think society’s shifted generally in terms of what we accept, what we won’t accept and recognising what needs to change. But I also think there’s a huge amount that people can do and are doing right here and now. And that’s exciting. There’s been a bit of realisation for many people recently as they finally recognise that there’s a significant issue when women and girls don’t have the same access to pitches, don’t have the same funding, don’t get the same prize money, don’t get paid the same in professional contracts as men. Yet those female athletes are out there training just as hard as men, trying to excel in the same way with the same pressure to get selected or beat the competition. For those female athletes it’s not a case of obsessing day-to-day ‘This is completely unfair and unjust’ because you’ve got to get your head down and get on with being selected and being great at what you are doing as an athlete. In terms of creating the ‘Game On’ documentary, it was the whole process of making it – learning new things, the enjoyment of filming, travelling to different locations with Jack and Ben, being part of something – that’s what I remember most.

Sue Anstiss holding two burgers smiling and Ben Marlow taking a huge bite out of one
Vegan Whoppers.... Every shoot!

Whatever happened at the end, the fact that we’d had incredible conversations, learned loads of stuff, crafted something beautiful and thoroughly enjoyed the process of doing it. For me, that was almost the most important bit. Sometimes it’s easy to dismiss these things as just fun and frivolous, but for me, it’s so important to enjoy what you’re involved in and doing every day. I really do believe if you follow what you believe is the right thing to do and what makes you truly happy, the rest does follow. It’s definitely been the case for me. If I look back across my career, especially in the past decade, that’s probably always been the case. I’ve never chased the biggest salary. I’ve never really been money-driven. I’ve simply done the things that I love because I really enjoy them, and they feel like the right and proper thing to do at the time. That includes starting a podcast, writing a book, founding the Women’s Sport Collective and then making a documentary. None of those things began with a business plan, but they have all flourished. I couldn’t be happier with where I am today. One of the things I remember most fondly about the documentary, was the first Monday night when it aired on Netflix and getting messages back from people that I didn’t really know and them telling me how much it had an impact. Telling me they’ve been moved to tears or it had changed their view or that they’d watched it with a partner and then had a really long conversation about some of the topics. Some of those moments are probably the most powerful for me in terms of finally recognising the impact it’s having, and I love that.

Sue Anstiss smiles whilst signing copies of her book in a book shop
Sue signing copies of her book

I’m hugely optimistic, but I’m not naive enough to think that gender equality is truly going to happen and it will never happen for sports like football because too much has already happened over too long a time, with too much outside investment and so on. But it could be so much better for many sports. I do feel and it’s my hope, that in the next five to ten years we’ll see some momentous shifts

Sue Anstiss

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