Former England netball head coach Tracey Neville has called out what she calls a “massive inequality” in the ratio of female to male coaches across sport.
In a discussion with Eurosport for International Women’s Day, featuring Orla Chennaoui in conversation with cyclist Lizzy Banks, former tennis player Annabel Croft and snooker player Reanne Evans, the Commonwealth Games gold medallist also highlighted the amount women are “trolled” compared to men on social media.
After beating Australia to victory on the Gold Coast in 2018, Neville stepped down as England’s netball boss the following summer to have a child and is now working with Superleague side Manchester Thunder as their performance operations director.
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The former international player is well known as one of three siblings to have represented their country, along with former footballer brothers Gary and Phil Neville, but she says that association has too often prefixed her achievements.
“I’m a person who’s grown up with a headline of ‘sister of…’ in everything I’ve succeeded in,” Neville said.
At the start, that was quite demoralising because I was actually successful in my own right.
“But after that (the Commonwealth Games success), my brothers started to speak out for me.
“Phil and Gary, they started to have a voice within the media and they started to highlight the importance of me and how hard I work, so they actually speak out quite strongly for me and for netball.”
Although Neville acknowledges she works in a sport which has the rarity of having more women involved than men, she believes there is an issue across sport which needs to be tackled.
“Sometimes I don’t think we get the publicity or are in the public eye enough to say that we’re probably trolled a lot more than the men”, said Neville.
“At the moment there is a massive inequality to the number of female coaches that are actually in sports”.
Neville has highlighted the role men have in promoting women’s sport and their achievements. She speaks highly of the work her brothers have done in that area, with Phil a previous head coach of England’s women’s football team, and has praised comments from the likes of Andy Murray, who has repeatedly called out critics of women’s sport and considers himself a feminist.
“I think it’s important that people like Andy Murray, people who have a voice and are highly respected, do speak out,” Neville added.
“It’s within their own arena, they’ve just competed, but they’re also recognising what’s happening around them.
“Sometimes we’re very internally focused, we just need to open up our vision a bit more and celebrate sport as one – and not male and female.”
Eurosport is celebrating International Women’s Day every day from Thursday, March 4 to Monday, March 8. On the day itself, we will have a women’s sport takeover on our social channels and a special show hosted by Orla Chennaoui which will be broadcast at 7pm on Eurosport 1, eurosport.co.uk and the Eurosport app.
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