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Receptive and competitive women sports in historical perspective

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Receptive and competitive women sports in historical perspective

By the first decade of the twentieth century, increasing numbers of girls and women were participating in more various and vigorous forms of sports and physical exercise. In such context we could to speak about “expansion and containment of women sport”. Recreative and competitive sports were also circumstances by the most powerful and pervasive feature of the dominant ideology concerning women – biological determinism. They also developed their own unique characteristics. But we have to remind that the evidence of history reflects on the field of women’ s sports – as a “lived culture” embodied tensions, conflicts and contradictions: Neither women, nor sports, can be treated as homogenous. Emancipator potential of sports through new physical experiences was a contrast to the severe constrains of the past, but they did so in different ways. Cycling, characterized at that time as “the youngest of women’s sports” offering a pleasure in itself and to possess elements of excitement, being embodiment of an adventure change, delightful sense of independence and power. Especially such sport could offer to women healthy animal condition elevating them to perfection of physical well-being.

But the ability to experience the sensuous joy of movement depended strongly upon dress reform. For sport of women was very important that after the turn of the century the female form was being released from the “distortions and distensions” of corsets and hobble skirts replaced by looser fitting and lighter clothing. Dress reform accelerated the development of female sports, in turn, stimulated changes in sportswear. If any one event best characterized the emancipator tendency of women’s sports, it was the advent of the safety bicycle. “Suffrage (voting rights for women), dress reform and liberty” – these were the most common demands of the British and American feminists, and the evidence suggests that the invention and subsequent popularity, from the turn of the century, of safety bicycle advanced the cause of female dress reform. It is believed that bicycling in Europe influenced female reforms in North America .But for many conservative and traditionally oriented people cycling was claimed to be an indolent and indecent activity which tended to destroy the sweet simplicity of a girl’s nature and which might cause her to fall into the arms of a strange men! The worst fear was that cycling might even transport a girl to prostitution (42:243-246).

Cycling had accelerated the ongoing changed social revolutions which was consummated in the new century with the advent of the automobile and motor-cycle .It had accelerated also a process of reappraisal of women’ s potential for physical and bodily freedom which various forms of games-playing and sports carried forward into the twentieth century.

The bicycle liberated women from their actual and symbolic encumbrances of long skirts and tight lacing of their complicated shoes. The new forms of dress designed for the bicycle – shortened skirts, divided skirts, knickerbockers, skirts with elastic insets, and bloomers or “rational dress” allowed women a new physical independence and symbolized their revolt against restrictions. With the bicycle, women appropriated two unprecedented forms of freedom – bodily and spatial mobility (43: 92-93).

General awareness about puritan conception of sinful nature of the body, that sensuous free movement could be erotic and sexually provocative, posed an additional problem for women. Not surprisingly, sports symbolizing freedom and spontaneity and which could be associated with sexuality, were opposed on moral as well as scientific grounds. Attitudes to the sexuality of the female body, exemplified in sports, changed over years – the eroticism of the flamboyant dresses worn for intentional recreation was replaced by the sexless character of the clothe that were easier to move in, but covered all possible part of the body from sight: The skirts and petticoats of the early Hockey era covered the ankles, the blouses were high-necked and long-sleeved and the hockey players wore gloves and hats. Imagine sporting attire after some time of vigorous play! During the time sporting activities sought to decasualize sportswomen and it was not infrequently argued that sports should be used to reduce sexual desire.

New, generally popular sports entered in the course of time into the world of women’s sports. Swimming and athletics and, to lesser extent, more rhythmic forms of gymnastics, demanded a new quality of physical freedom embodying a greater range of movement and fluid actions. These sports were freer, less tense and rigid, and defined as more aesthetic than other sports, and clothing for them was, necessarily minimized, exposing more of the female body. Above all swimming became established as a morally acceptable recreation for the “fair sex” and arguments were made to promote it as a functional activity, a “life preserving art”, and as a form of exercise beneficial to women’s health. But no formalized races for women took place before 1900 and women were not admitted to the British National Championship until 1912.

Regarding tennis it was, mostly because of respective women’s competition at Wimbledon, argued that “tournament play is all too tiring for weaker sex” (Ladies singles championship was not allowed at Wimbledon until 1884). But tennis went ahead of many other sports in its international development: Aristocrats (of both sexes) and affluent middle-class people throughout Britain, in other part of the Europe, and in North America and the colonies played tennis. They could afford their own courts and the fees to join clubs and they could travel to competitions at home and abroad.

Women sports reflect not only given state of society, its political, cultural and economic nature, but given educational system too. As more middle-class women gained access to formal education, they took part in organized sports in increasing numbers. For example women’s field hockey was being played at British universities form 1970, and became established in girl’s schools and then in the specialist colleges of physical education from the 1880s, and later spread out to clubs and other institutions. But hockey is a potentially fast, vigorous, aggressive and “dirty” game, and the early female hockey players were some of the most physically adventurous women of their time. But alongside advancement and enthusiasm, there continued to be constant and hostile opposition to women’ s sports, which encouraged the adoption of strict rules of etiquette and the continuation of single-sex spheres. Although in England and other European countries was a slight, but favorable shift in attitude to women’s participation in physical and sporting activities after the turn of the century, there was renewed antagonism to tiled, in particular, from doctors and spectators. So, it reminded imperative for women players to be as ladylike in their play as possible – to tackle each other gently and fairly, to behave with respectable demeanor on and off the hockey pitch, and to dress inoffensively. Hockey provided an example for the pattern of development of other team games. During the 1890s other competitive games for women in England which were taken in schools, colleges and clubs included lacrosse, rounder (game reminding baseball), basketball, netball and cricket. But official governing institutionalized bodies of those women’s games were formed much later–about 1920s.

New impetus for women’s sport in a cradle of modern sport meant existence of German gymnastics. It included work on apparatus and became the basis of competitive, Olympic gymnastics, whereas the Swedish system was restricted to free-standing floor exercises. Women’s gymnastics was quickly patronized by members of the ruling class for which it was a way of gaining publicity and admiration, of displaying and reinforcing their values, and of having a controlling interest in an increasingly popular activity. Gymnastics displays involved free-standing exercises, marching and calisthenics, and work with small apparatus, such as hoops and balls. They incorporate a great deal of symbolism and ritual and, with large numbers of bodies moving in identical ways, they created a moving, and unifying effect on performers and spectator alike. The “poly Girls” gave many demonstrations and exhibitions where important dignitaries, politicians and members of the royal family were presented. In such context we have to remind excellent example of women’s participation at the Czech (or Czechoslovak) Skull's rallies: Since the turn of the 19th and 20th century thousands of very perfectly mass organized and prepared exercising women exhibited high standard of sportive activities. The some exercising mastery presented Czech women during period of time between 1955-1985 at the Spartakiada rallies. The growing respect for sporting performances as a form of the emerging ideals of a changing image of femininity which personified energy and positive health have been taking more and more adherents. As a reflection of such emancipating fact, at the Olympics in London 1908 national women’s Olympics teams took part. The progressive development in women’s sport – in recreation as well in competitive – slowly continued during the course of 20th century

The phenomenon of the legitimating of female sports has ever been confronted with medical opinions for and against female exercise. This fact reflects some of the complexities, contradictions and struggles which were part of the early development of women’s sports, and provide part of a history of ideas about women’s bodies, aspects of which are still relevant today. Accounts and arguments of the apparently harmful effects of female exercise were published throughout the nineteenth century and continued to have credibility and a powerful effect on female participation in sports well into the twentieth century. It had been mostly “argued” that sportive activities for women is producing unnatural consolidation of bones that causes harmful prospect for future functions or that games and athletics could disable a women from breastfeeding. In general we can conclude that the medical arguments opposing exercise for women were that it was damaging to health. But there were also some opposite medical arguments supporting sportive activities for women believing in their positive health impact. Even in the mid of 19th century in England some papers, referring to medical opinion, recommended exercise for women argued that the subtle processes of early socialization preclude girls from taking part in physical activities. In such context, lack of exercise was condemned as the cause of general bodily atrophy, deformity, dysfunction of muscles and organs and even premature death (43: 106).

Although these positions for and against exercise for women appeared to be in opposition, there were both oriented to concern for the national good as well for future of human race. From the beginning of the twentieth century most doctors were in favor of exercise of women. Medical opinion was part of societal development regarding changes in women’s status, mostly those of middle and upper classes. The increased participation of middle-class women in sports was in such a context a reflection of confirming theoretical arguments in favor of female exercise. On the opposite side of the scene existed working-class women being required to work in long and exhausting labor and, until later in the 20th century, few only them had the time, money or energy and enthusiasm to participate.

The development of female sports was in European context part of general movement: The entry of women into spheres that men had previously dominated was no longer just a function of work; it was also a function of leisure and, of course, of education. Women’s gymnastics was in such a context more and more popular among “solidly middle-class”, and they had been mostly employed as milliners, court dressmakers, secretaries, a teachers, shop assistants, and commercial secretaries.

Sports which were considered to be intrinsically more suited to woman’s “nature” or feminine appropriate sports – were challenged less as time progressed. Mixed sports when allowed, were acceptable if the women played supportive, ladylike roles as men’s partners. If women played men’s sports, dominant images of femininity were threatened, too. Because women’s sports had a strong middle-class character, and because they were overshadowed by the sporting status of men, the material women overall was limited. Without importance is not the fact of work-oriented value-system of capitalism. Sports were easy to justify as a criterion for physical and moral improvement, leisure on a utilitarian orientation – was viewed as an adjunct to work, necessary to refresh the body for the “business life”. We can conclude that towards the end of the 19th century sports became accessible more and more also to working-class girls and women, as well as to their middle-class counterparts. The idea that leisure should have some manifest moral or improving content penetrated women’s sports as they became more democratized and more involved in philanthropic activities (45: 17).

Beginning of 20th century in Europe and North America offered working class girls and women almost the same opportunity to be involved in sport activities as to their middle-clans counterparts. Sport activities had been more and more part of leisure activities and even in many “socio-religious” organizations included some sort of sport or physical activities on their programs, such a field hockey, swimming or gymnastics. Sports were an excellent purveyor of values, and organized sports for women embodied rigid bourgeois values. Women’s sports improved moral legitimating of leisure and projected preferred image of women accenting imagination of female virtues: loyalty, co-operation, smartness, cleanliness, fairness, exemplary manners and a strict inner discipline of moderation, self-control and respect for authority. Physical prowess, courage, strength, endurance and aggression as a traits associated exclusively with men’s sports were discouraged, or underplayed in most female sports (43: 111).

Sociological view penetrating the first decade after the First World War – characterized as one of hedonism – with its accent on physical and psychical well-being – substantial numbers of people from different social backgrounds were enjoying new pleasures, including sport activities. Just sports, together with other forms of recreation, provided a seductive vision of the “good life”. But from many cultural, economic and social reasons patterns of inequality caused that mostly privileged social classes, young people and men were able to enjoy in sports. And we have to remind another aspect of the problem – because most research of historical development of sports has focused on male participation – we have only a slight or hazy idea of the extent to which women were part of the general growth of sports and recreation. Despite this fact we can conclude that during the 1920s and 1930s the maturation of capitalism in Britain and the United States had strong impact on position of sports in society too. Sports became more and more integral to the commercialization of popular culture. Along with the cinema, dance-hall, gramophone, motoring, travel and communications, sports were and still have been important part of mass entertainment industry, closely linked to the mechanism of the market. For women in particular sports spectacles were suggestive of a much freer, more provocative use of the body than ever before, quite in contrast to the traditional attitudes to the sporting attitudes to the sporting female institutionalized in clubs, schools and colleges. In this period some sportswomen were generally known and admired. For example American swimmer Gertrude Ederle as the first women to swim the English Channel in 1926. and also in the 1920s the Norwegian Sonja Hein was an international star with the reputation of being the most skilful and exciting female figure-stating ever. And “Babe” Didrikson, for example, was one of the most versatile female athletes in the history of sports. In 1930 she broke the world javelin record at the age of 16, and two years later she competed in eight athletic events in the US Athletic Championships, winning five of them. In the same year she won two gold medals and one silver medal at the Los Angeles Olympics. Didikson was an excellent in running, jumping, and throwing events, but she was also outstanding in other sports – notably first as an amateur and then as a professional golfer, and also in baseball, tennis, swimming, diving and billiards.

Male hegemony has never been quite absolute in sports. Mainly in some sports as tennis women have ever been to assert themselves and to disrupt conventional images of femininity.

We know very well as difficult is to assess the extend to which successful sportswomen influenced ideas about female athleticism. There is no doubt that popularity of sports among women has been more and more “infectious” on the ground recreational as well highly competitive sports. And it is evident that for women from privileged backgrounds to take part in sports (namely in exotic and adventurous sports) has ever been relatively easy in comparison with those who lacked time and money. Class-related sports participation in adulthood was in the past, to a large extent, of experience at school. Not surprisingly, the organization and growth of women’s games and sports movement was in “rich” European countries and North America during the first half of the 20th century closely associated with the elite girl’s schools, colleges and universities. In this context some women’s sports and games were established – for example netball (female mutation of basketball) – as a reflection of conservative opinion considering some sports to be “too physical” for young women.

Progress in sportive activities of women had also strong impact on sport facilities comparable with these of men’s. In numerous sports contexts, men held (and from point of view of many critical feminists are still in many respect holding) the power to stop women’s progress because they monopolized resources and held controlling and decision-making positions. This was – mostly during the last century – reflected in struggling for resources in women’s sports, in fact an endeavor to get equality of opportunity with men. Mostly successful female athletes, in common with other sportswomen, were active agents in the development of their sports. Very important role in such process played the establishment of female athletics. But it was not without many difficulties. Above all, female athletes were particularly vulnerable to reactionary medical arguments. Athleticism is to do with action, power, speed and strength, suggestive of a qualitatively new notion of womanhood. Whereas the bicycle had symbolized the freedom of women to escape by mechanical means to a new form of independence, the new freedom for women experienced through participation in athletics was at the level of their own bodies. Athletics had a greater working-class following than many other female sports. Like many other female sports, athletics attracted spectators. At the Olympics 1924 spectators had first time a chance to enjoy a broad range of athletic events for women (100 yards, 250 meters, 120 yards of hurdles, relay races of 220 and 110 yards, long jump, high jump, javelin throw, short put, discus throw) between athletes representing Belgium, Canada, Czechoslovakia, France, Great Britain, Italy, Switzerland, and the United States. The manifestly public nature of women’s athletics and the celebration of women’s sporting feasts were reflected in increasing mass media’s interest (primarily printed ones) including a registration of world records for women’s sport (43: 132).

Interwar arguments to support women’s participation in exercise and sports did not represent a particularly radical shift, but rather a compromise. The position accenting the belief that intense activity would harm a women’s reproductive capacity was very strong and influenced a medical appraisal of their sports. Another side of problem - an association of the body and a shame – was much more liberally solved in permissive societies, where uncovering body or even nakedness was more socially and morally accepted. This is not without importance: Sports were also expressions of a restless spirit of eroticism.

General societal a scientific development during 1930s urged people of all classes, all ages and both sexes to participate in some form of sport or exercise. Traditional ideologies about female exercise were finally shifting and girls and women had moved from a marginal position to a more equal place on policy agendas. Accent on physical fitness was more and more spreading among many European societies. Many voluntary bodies were working, in some way, to promote female participation in sportive activities (39:40)

The process of increasing democratization produced numerous clubs and associations including women’s sports and reactive activities. In some European, Asian and American countries, in Germany and Czechoslovakia for example, worker’s sports were more and more developed and high percentage of working class women were involved in organized sports (41: 162)

. The period between 1919 and 1939 suggests that development of women’s sport was not in many respect evolutionary process, but rather uneven and complex one. There were similarities between different sports and different context, but also differences and contradictions. Some female sports showed continuity of past practices (field hockey, gymnastics), but various sports for women emerged and new arrangements were secured (truck and fields, netball). The inter-war years show clearly that there were continued gender struggles over the consumptions of sports and that many unexpected changes occurred. Anyway – women’s sport during this period had changed fundamentally and reflected many features we face at present time.
Feminist versus masculinity: Some today’s connotations

Sport participation among females has increased dramatically after the Second World War and namely since 1970s. This has been in European and American context primarily the result of a growth in opportunities fueled by equal rights legislation, the emancipation movement of women, the health and fitness movement, and increased publicity given to women athletes. Despite this trend of increased participation, future increases in sport participations among girls and women will not be automatic. It is today reflected in different ways in different cultural, political and social contexts in global extent. Despite the fact that more women than ever are playing sports and working in sport organizations, gender inequities continue to exist in participation opportunities, support of athletes, and jobs for women in coaching and administration (43: 238-239).

One of the most important problems of contemporary sport in context of sex relations is the fact that we mostly understand images of the female in sport only in relation to those of the male. Competitive sports are celebrations of physical differences – between people of the same sex, but also, and in a most profound way, between males and females. We can conclude that modern sports have been powerful sources of male imagery. The idealized and mostly adored male sporting body – strong, aggressive and muscular – has been a popular symbol of masculinity against which women, characterized as relatively powerless and inferior, have been measured.

Masculinity and femininity are relative concepts which are socially and historically constructed: “The meanings in the bodily sense of masculinity concerns, above all else, the superiority of men to women, and the exaltation of hegemonic masculinity over other groups of men which is essential to the domination of women” (37:85).

Sown differences should therefore only be used to refer to physiology, anatomy, genetics, hormones and so forth. But gender should properly be used to refer to all non-biological aspects of differences between males and females – clothes, interests, attitudes, behaviors and aptitudes, for example – which separate “masculine” from “feminine” life styles. And traditionally we have faced “masculine” and “feminine” sports. But in the course of the time more and more girls are labeled as “masculine” or “unfeminine” for expressing a preference for playing traditional male sports, and whose opportunities to participate in activities which require explosive and powerful movements are limited. However, the trend for girls to participate in those sports that have traditionally been all-male ones is established and expanding: During past two decades in Norway and Sweden football has become, respectively, the fourth and second most popular sporting activity for girl (40:33)

. But it is interesting, that “feminine-appropriate” sports are becoming more popular with boys. Of course, it could be reflection of the fact; we live in the world with strong tendency to admire values as performance, strength, action, speed domination.

It is still the case, however, that sports are not generally popular amongst adolescent girls. Being good at sports is namely inextricably linked to popular perceptions of masculinity, for secondary success brings prestige and boosts self image. But sports are far less important in the lives of adolescent girls, who, encouraged by peer group pressure, seek other activities linked closely to their preferred perceptions of femininity: Teachers of physical culture know very well about tremendous peer group pressure on adolescent girls to immerse themselves in an “anti-school” culture of femininity, which sometime and somewhere resembles a cult ignoring sports in general. In European cultural context girls get their exercise at the disco rather than on the sports field or in the gym or swimming pool. Sports for them have no connection with their idealized images of femininity. But world of sports is actualized in the lives of both sexes through sportswear as a way to promote a sexy image. This is one way in which sports have become inseparably linked to the commercialization of the female body and the commercialization of sexuality. Fashion seems increasingly to be taking its energy from sports, and sportswear and leisure-wear are not inevitably just practical, but sexy and modish. The equalizations of the body are also favored in magazine and press photographs of well-known female athletes. Glamour poses which ignore the skills of performance and those which highlight sexuality transform athletes into objects of desire of envy, providing an unambiguous message that sportswomen are sexual women (43:162).

Opposite part of that phenomenon is reflected in Islamic culture. For example in European schools with a significant proportion of Muslim pupils, mixed physical education is in question. Muslim parents frequently raise objections to it on both religious and moral grounds, arguing that mixed physical education may bring their daughters into direct contact with males in what is regarded as a shameful and potentially compromising position.

A position of women in sport culture is still one of the most problematic issues of mutual relations of sport and society. To change gender relations in sports means to be confronted with whole range of other social practices and issues – the family, the school, the media and the state. In such context we could conclude that gender relations in sports are part of constant process of negotiation, struggle and change. Change in sports can be accomplished through a combination or complex of strategies – respecting given cultural and social settings. Creating new orientations based on the pleasure and participation approach to sports in one of the way to improve gender equity in sports as a reflection of gender relations outside of sports. The ideal of “Sport for All” in this endeavor reflects proper principles of democracy and human rights. It implies ideas of non-discrimination, non-elitism and popular alternatives of mainstream sports. Reflects principles equality of opportunity – for those of different ages, classes, ethnicities, races, genders and sexualities. those who are disabled as well as the able-bodied., and those with varying levels of talent and aspiration. It is proper place for sportswomen actively seeking for non competitive forms of sporting activities, enjoying in physical improvement, healthy motorist activities and reasonable sharing their leisure. In such context korfball is presented as an unusual example of a mixed sport invented to enable males and females to blend positive aspects of both male and female sports cultures. So we face a development of specific “biculturalism” believing releasing negative aspects of the dominant ethic of competitive sport.

Histories of women’s sports show that patriarchal relations do not explain women’s subordination. Female sports are integral of the totality and complexity of relations of cultural power (reflecting economic, political and ideological relations) which include different relations between men and women and different groups of women too. Women are involved in given cultural struggle, being manipulated and resistant, determined by circumstances and active agents in the historical transformation of the culture. Sports, like other forms of culture, are deeply contradictory. Some female sports are backward-looking, some are integral part of dominant system of values and meanings, and others are radical cultures incorporating new values and meanings.

Female sports are part of battle for control of the physical body. Western cultures reflects tendency for women to experience their bodies as sites of oppression and to a vision of a better physical and psychical individual. Sports have become in global dimensions social experiences that for increasing numbers of women are positive, pleasurable and empowering. Women’s sport must be even in developing countries outside of democratic countries an arena focusing humanist and progressive ideas and elimination of discrimination.

European case of institutional emancipation of women sport: EWS

General Introduction

The European Women and Sport (EWS) is a free-standing group which consists of representatives and contact persons related to or interested in gender equality work in non-governmental or governmental sports organizations and bodies in their respective countries. The EWS was founded as a practical legacy of special working group activities which the European sport conference (EWS) had developed during the years 1989-1993. Since 1994 the EWS has an associate

member status at the ESC Executive Committee.

The EWS operates Europe-wide and co-operates with European sports organizations. In order to strengthen the promotion of gender equality and the gender mainstreaming principle to sports organizations in Europe, the EWS has and has membership status in the European Women’s Lobby (EWL).

Main aim and objectives

The main aim of the EWS is directed towards a sports culture of practiced gender equality in terms of equal opportunities for girls and boys, women and men with regard to education and training, participation and promotion as well as co-determination in decision-making processes in sport.

The EWS constitutes a network aimed at increasing the involvement of women in sport at all levels and in all functions and roles. For this purpose, the EWS serves the following objectives:

To represent, defend and promote the interests of women in sport at a European level;

To support and further develop the participation of girls and women in sport;

To help increasing the number of women in decision-making bodies and in the administration of sport at all levels;

To educate women for decision-making in sport (e.g. through mentor programmers);

To promote the involvement of female representatives in local, regional, national delegations at sport-political, scientific and sport-practical events, conferences, seminars and workshops, at national and international levels;

To strengthen co-operation and encourage the exchange of experience on women and sport issues among European countries at bilateral and multilateral levels;

To cultivate relations with international organizations and bodies on women and sport issues and -where appropriate - establish links of co-operation;

To motivate international and sport bodies to support and finance projects on women and sport;

To encourage and increase scientific research projects in various sports sciences for initiating, supporting and adopting women’s perspectives; to provide information on scientific findings on Women and sport..

Structure and Organization of Activities

The European Women and Sport Group (EWS) consist of the following elements:

The EWS Chair

The EWS Steering Group

The Network of EWS Contact Persons

The European Women and Sport Conference

The EWS Open Steering Group Meeting

1. EWS Chair

The EWS Chair leads the Steering Group. She/he officially represents the EWS in general and the Steering Group in particular, and is entrusted with the implementation and follow-up of Steering Group decisions during the Chair period.

1.1 Mandatory Period and Terms of Office

The EWS Chairing country changes at the EWS Conference, where the organizing country of the next EWS Conference takes over the chair (including the Steering Group Chair). The new chairing country is announced at the autumn EWS Steering Meeting in the year which precedes the start of its mandate.

In order to facilitate the transfer between successive chairs, the outgoing EWS Chair or secretary general has to stay on the Steering Group and share the main aims of EWS and participate in its responsibilities with the newly elected EWS Chair. This co-chair period starts immediately after the EWS Conference and ends at the end of the same year.

1.2 Conditions for Applications

At least three months before the date of the autumn EWS Steering Group Meeting, which precedes the EWS Conference, the acting Chair country will call national governmental and non-governmental umbrella sports organizations of European countries to forward applications for the coming EWS Chair, also announcing the exact deadline for the submission of candidacies. Candidacies received after this deadline are not valid and will not be taken into consideration. Applications can only be forwarded by a national governmental and/or non-governmental umbrella sports organization of a European country in writing.

1.3 Election and Voting Procedure

The acting EWS Chair will forward applications and accompanying documentation to the members of the EWS Steering Group. The decision will be taken in the autumn EWS Steering Group meeting preceding the EWS Conference. The Steering Group decides by majority vote on the new EWS Chair for the coming period. In case of equal votes, the acting Chair has a casting vote.

The decision of the Steering Group will be announced by the acting Chair to all governmental and non-governmental umbrella organizations as well as to the network of EWS contact persons immediately after the closure of this EWS Steering Group meeting.

1.4 Responsibilities of the EWS chair

Chair of the Steering Group

Preparation, development and follow-up of the Steering Group meetings and activities.

Organization of the coming biennial EWS Conference

Preparation of the Open Steering Group Meeting to be organized in combination with the next ESC

Further development and follow-up of EWS aims policies and activities

Strengthening of the EWS network, in particular the group of EWS contact persons

Co-operation with other European organizations, especially with the ESC and ENGSO, where the

EWS associate membership in the Executive Committee shall be actively exercised, and – where appropriate - with international organizations

Representation of European women and sport matters in international organizations, participation

In conferences on women and sport issues at European and international level, where appropriate

Public relations (e.g. via EWS newsletter, EWS homepage or similar means)

2. EWS Steering Group

The EWS Steering Group decides on the EWS policy and develops sport-political approaches for the empowerment of women in sports in Europe.

2.1 Composition

A maximum of seven members with full membership

Representing different European countries, two of which are pre-fixed positions related to the country of the Chair (being the hosting country of the coming EWS Conference) and the country of the organizers of the previous EWS Conference.

Additional participants:

The EWS Secretary, who is recruited from the Chair country and is entitled to accompany the chairperson to all meeting,

A seat and permanent guest status is offered to a representative of the ESC, the ENGSO and the EOC

Permanent guest status can be granted to partner organizations, upon decision by the Steering Group

Upon special need to be decided by the Steering Group

2.2 Mandatory Period and Term of Office

The Steering Group has a mandate for one period, which is 2 years, starting right after the EWS Conference (at which its composition is officially announced) and ending with the celebration of the next biennial EWS Conference.

Members of the Steering Group are elected for one period and - on due application by their respective country and/or national umbrella sport organization - may stand for re-election for a second term of office, except if a country takes the chair during its mandate. After a maximum of two periods, their respective country has to wait at least for one period before it can submit its candidacy again. A period is defined as the time between two EWS Conferences.

The term of office related to the pre-fixed positions is of one period only, being however understood that the Chairing country qualifies for the next period automatically ex officio (as new "previous EWS conference organizer").

2.3 Conditions for Applications

Regarding the two pre-fixed Steering Group positions, the representatives must be appointed or confirmed by their respective European country and/or national umbrella sport organization. The applying countries for the other positions must represent European countries, and the candidates

(Only one per country) - A man or a woman - be officially nominated (by name) by a national governmental or non-governmental umbrella organization.

The official call for candidacies must be sent out by the EWS Chair six months in advance of the next EWS Conference to all European countries, i.e. to the respective national governmental and non- governmental umbrella sports organization, with information to the network of EWS contact persons, and contain a specification of the exact deadline for the submission of applications. Candidacies received after this deadline are not valid and will not be taken into consideration.

The EWS Chair will submit all valid applications to the members of the EWS Steering Group preceding the EWS Conference for information and decision at the EWS Steering Group meeting directly before the conference.

2.4 Election and Voting Procedure

When electing the representatives who have applied for membership during the next period for the positions which are not pre-fixed, the Steering Group shall take into consideration several criteria which will help to achieve an effective EWS work and, preferably, a well-balanced representation of ESC countries at the next Steering Group (I. e. with regard to the competence of the nominees and in terms of geography, size, advancement in women's issues of the applicant countries).

In a Steering Group meeting held just before the EWS Conference, the members of the Steering Group will vote by secret ballot on the applications and candidacies received, unless an open ballot is accepted by majority vote. The decision is taken by a simple majority of votes, in case of equal votes, a second ballot is conducted.

The composition of the Steering Group for the coming period will be officially announced at the EWS Conference by the new EWS Chair.

2.5 Replacements on the EWS Steering Group

If a European country and/or national umbrella sport organization ceases to support the Steering Group member it has nominated, the secretariat (Chair, Secretary General) of the EWS should be informed immediately and in writing. A Steering Group member can withdraw from her or his position due to personal reasons, or will be expelled from the Steering Group if it is convicted of a serious offence.

If a withdrawal occurs within 12 months of the next EWS conference, the seat is left vacant. If the next EWS conference is at least 13 months away, the normal application procedure as stated in 2.3.applies.

2.6 Meetings

The Steering Group meets a minimum of four and a maximum of eight times per period, including the meetings on the occasion of the EWS Conference and the ESC Meeting, where a EWS Open Steering Group meeting is organized.

With the exception of the first meeting, which should be held as EWS Open Steering Group Meeting in connection with the ESC Meeting, the meetings which are not combined with other events and places (as mentioned above) can be organized in different countries.

2.7 Financial Implications

The EWS Steering Group does not have its own budget. The costs of its meetings are financed by the respective organizing country (the Chair country and/or another country which hosts a meeting). All Steering Group members and participants are responsible for their own travel and accommodation costs, to be covered by their home organizations.

2.8 IWG Representation

The EWS Steering Group has an ex officio mandate at the yearly meeting of the International Working Group on Women and Sport (IWG) and its World Conference. A representative is named by the EWS Steering Group during the four year term to follow the work done by the IWG co-chair.

3. Network of EWS Contact Persons

Each European country is invited to nominate a EWS contact person from a governmental and/or non-governmental umbrella organization in order to create

A Europe-wide network for the promotion of gender equality. The national EWS contact persons should be accepted by the governmental and/or non-governmental sport organizations of their respective country as persons committed to the promotion of women and sport, responsible for development of a national network for this purpose and the organization of appropriate projects Contact persons from European Sports Federations are invited to join the Europe-wide network. All contact persons are expected to support the EWS aims and activities by working towards the develop and implementation of national development programmers for women and sport in their respective country;

Shall keep close contact with the EWS and, in particular, the Steering Group, in order to assist national, bilateral and multilateral exchange and distribution of information on women and Sport issues;

Shall help to monitor the implementation of all recommendations;

Shall attend the EWS Open Steering Group Meetings and biennial EWS Conferences.

4. European Women and Sport Conference

The EWS Women and Sport Conference are organized every two years in odd years in the first half of the year and takes place in the current country of the EWS Chair. It is open to EWS network partners,

EWS contact persons and everyone who takes an interest in the women and sport work in view of Promoting gender equality in European sport and sport administration at all levels.

Representatives of non-European countries may be invited as guests or observers.

The EWS Conference provides a forum for the development and discussion of new policies and approaches towards the achievement of a sports culture of equal opportunities for both genders, and the implementation of recommendations which serve to reach this aim.

5. EWS Open Steering Group Meeting

At the occasion of the European Sports Conference (every 2 years in odd years, normally in autumn), The EWS organists a EWS Open Steering Group Meeting.

Meeting is the constituent Steering Group Meeting.

The EWS Open Steering Group Meeting is directed to all men and women who are interested in women and sport work and the promotion of equality in sport, in particular, the EWS contact persons.

It provides a forum for networking between the different parties interested and involved The EWS Steering Group and its Chair; the EWS contact persons, the ESC Executive Committee and all ESC countries.

For this purpose, ESC countries are expected to include EWS contact persons in their national delegations or to facilitate, in another way, their participation at the European Sports Conference, as well.

EWS Working Language

The working language used at the EWS Conferences, Open Meetings, Steering Group meetings and other events within the network is ENGLISH.

New horizon of woman gymnastics: A problem of reflectiv coaching education

An integral part of an effective striving for improving given standards of teaching and instructing sport in general, and woman gymnastic in particular, is an endeavor for to improve our coaching. A competency in this context is part of the game”! When a coach fails to consider his/her practice in a thoughtful way the needs of the gymnast may not be met. In this context we have to remind firstly how coaching knowledge is linked into practice, secondly practical ideas are then introduced that will help you to start developing reflective skills to enhance coaching practice (Barrie, A. 1996 see references). In order to develop gymnastic performance all coaches must be going through the cyclical process. All coaches must therefore know something about performance in order to assess the performer, diagnose faults and finally prescribe appropriate training. Generally we start with “implement coaching programmed, than pass through evaluation of performance and reassessment, than develop coaching schedule and consequently establish given objectives. But where does that knowledge come from and how does it link to practice?

Knowledge originates from two sources. Firstly, as Barrie concludes, there is “'professional knowledge”, knowledge that is directly taught to the coach through academia, theoretical aspects of coaching award or other scholastic based courses/literature. Examples of professional knowledge would include things like theories of psychological interventions, physiological basis of flexibility training etc. Secondly, there is craft knowledge which is much harder to define. Craft knowledge is defined as “knowing in action” and is concerned with the coaches intuitive “fee”' for gymnastics coaching and performance. Examples of craft knowledge would be how a coach chooses to integrate psychological skills training into their coaching (e.g. introducing imagery) with a specific gymnast/group or increasing flexibility through specific training. Craft knowledge grows out of experience and developing awareness of situations that confront the coach.

It must be taken in a count and fully respected that craft and professional knowledge are complimentary. One is not better than the other; they are both important for the coach. The coach needs to take on what they have learnt from whatever professional knowledge is presented to them and use that alongside their own existing craft knowledge. In the end professional knowledge should be effectively combined with craft knowledge to improve coaching practice.

To discuss practical aspects of reflective coaching in gymnastics, we update a concept of developing knowledge. In fact we postulate logical question on “how can coaches develop professional knowledge and craft knowledge to improve coaching practice?” Developing professional knowledge and craft knowledge is part of many specific coach education courses available through the various educational levels in given cultural contexts. Regarding professional knowledge, coaching award course will help generally coaches develop their professional knowledge. In contrast, there is no formal way of teaching craft knowledge; however, developing the skill of reflection can help coaches to become aware of their own coaching practice. This process can help to develop, evaluate and formulate strategies to improve coaching practice and environment (Knowles, 1997b... see references). This is where the concept of reflective coaching becomes important.

Speaking about reflective coaching, we face an intensive and systematic endeavor to raise the self awareness of the coach to what they do, how they feel and how they respond when coaching. Coaches need to be going through so called reflective cycle in order to formalize this reflection and make it easier coaches should try and use a reflective journal or diary. Trainee/practicing coaches will be familiar with the idea session plans, training diaries and other methods of written planning. These are all useful tools for the coach but to make a journal really reflective an extra section needs to be added. The reflective section should focus on both the successful and unsuccessful actions and, most importantly their associated emotions. It is this kind of self reflection that heightens self awareness and promotes personal development. Regarding an illustrative description of such “reflective cycle” we start with description of given situation (what happened?), follow to feelings (what were you thinking and feeling), evaluation (what was good and bad about the experience?), analysis (what sense can you make of the situation?), conclusion (what else could you have done) and action plan (if it arose again what would you do). Such generally accepted theoretical scheme is not unfortunately ideal from practical point of view. Its sufficient completion requires the coach to be open and honest whilst also personally challenging them by regularly questioning ' why do I do that? '

  • Describe the session/practice using appropriate dialogue from the situation. How did this differ from my original session plan?

  • What were my feelings with regard to this situation? Did I feel comfortable /uncomfortable?

  • Why was this?

  • Did I expect anything different to happen? What and why?

  • What were the constraints imposed on the session/practice? How could further steps alleviate these conflicts?

  • Did my practice improve? How exactly did it improve? Why?

  • Did my understanding of my practice improve? How? Why?

  • Has it changed my thinking in anyway?

  • What knowledge from theory and research can I apply effectively to this situation?

  • Where/from whom can I access this information?

  • How could I have improved my practice? What re-planning is necessary?

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