England Women’s boss Mark Sampson has been announced as the first-ever patron of leading charity Women In Sport.
The 33-year-old will champion the power of the UN’s ‘HeforShe’ approach in its mission to transform sport for every woman and girl in the UK.
Making its announcement on International Women's Day, the collective day of global celebration of women, the charity sent a strong statement that men are needed as agents for change in the fight for gender equality for women and girls across sport - from the field of play to the boardroom, from early years and throughout their lives.
In his role as patron, Sampson will speak out on behalf of the charity and send a message that there is an important role for men to play in promoting and supporting women’s sport.
Providing leadership to some of the country’s most eminent sportswomen, Sampson helped bring a nation together to support women’s football during last year’s World Cup in Canada.
He led England’s Lionesses to a bronze medal and inspired a generation to enjoy the game; making him an ideal choice as the charity’s first patron.
Currently in America overseeing England’s progress in the inaugural SheBelieves Cup, Sampson's hopes to use his position as patron to help the charity’s mission to improve women’s and girls’ lives through sport.
Sampson said: “I have long been a supporter of Women In Sport and it’s an honour to be named as a patron.
"It was incredible to receive such levels of support, exposure and recognition following our performance in Canada and it is vital to keep that momentum going across women’s sport.
“Greater equality in sport is a cause men need to get behind as much as women do and I look forward to working more closely with the charity to further its mission.”
In the UK there are 1.73m more men than women playing sport every week, meaning women are missing out on the physical, mental and well-being benefits of sport.
The charity aims to increase the visibility of women’s sport, in the media and in everyday life, in order to inspire people to play their part at every level and make sport normal for women and girls.
With its unique understanding of women’s lives, Women in Sport also works within sport to drive positive change and remove barriers.
Ruth Holdaway, chief executive of Women in Sport, added: “I’m delighted to have Mark on board as our first patron and believe he will do a fantastic job helping to champion the work we’re doing to transform sport for the benefit of every woman and girl in the UK.
“Mark is an exemplary coach and leader who understands the value of sport for all women and girls – and we’re delighted to celebrate International Women’s Day with this fantastic piece of news.”