‘I want to reach all these women going through the menopause’ - COGs founder backs call for to ensure midlife women have the chance to enjoy sport

Women in Sport has launched new research into the menopause and sport and activity alongside a new curation of images and films in partnership with Getty Images.

Tuesday, 8th June 2021, 3:21 pm
Updated Tuesday, 8th June 2021, 3:22 pm

As a result, the charity is calling for action both within and beyond the sport sector to ensure midlife women have the chance to enjoy sport and activity and the lifelong benefits they bring.

The work was funded thanks to players of People’s Postcode Lottery through the Postcode Sport Trust.

Carol Bates at the People's Pension Stadium
Carol Bates at the People's Pension Stadium

Here Carol Bates, founder and chair of Crawley Old Girls (COGs), tells her story.

Carol loves the game of football. When she walks off the pitch each week she is smiling, red faced and sweaty from running around.

She took up the game playing socially for the first time in her late forties and over the past few years it has brought great joy to her life and made Carol feel stronger and fitter.

“Throughout the years I have loved football and always been involved somehow but never got the chance to play until I reached my late forties. Football for women was banned by the FA for 50 years till 1971 so women like me never got the chance to play football. We are part of the missed generation. When I was 48 a friend asked me to play in a charity tournament for a local team. It was so much fun I completely loved it.

“The Community Foundation who work with the club were running sessions for girls. They had a project encouraging girls to play and I saw a tweet and thought I would love a kick about. I asked the age group and they said it was 14 – 25. I was nearly double the age. I thought I really want to play now, so I said what if I get a few women together can we do something like that for older women.

“I hadn’t been active for years, I am just not that kind of person to do yoga or fitness classes. I could not run to the bottom of the road without half dying but over the years now I can do that ten times without even realising it. It is so important as well when women are coming up to the menopause. We need to increase bone density, stave off diseases and things like that so it is so important that women are active.

“I think talking about the menopause is massively important, there is not enough out there on the subject. I am passionate about getting more imagery out there of women like me – I see pictures and I don’t identify with any of those women. I want to see real women with rolls of fat, smiling, laughing. Especially women of my age I need to see that to know I can do that.

“You get your own identity back. We are all so engrossed with everything, in being mum and family. We are there doing everyday things. But many of the women joining in are saying this is my time now, it is my time to be active and play football.

“The confidence that gives women with their self-esteem is brilliant. We all know the mental and physical health benefits. I see women when they come in and don’t know anyone and I have seen the growth and confidence in women, they are smiling and they love it.

“I want to reach all these women who are going through menopause, which is so important that you are active anyway and I want them to know that normal people like us can be active and it helps.”

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