March 06, 2022

Celebrating women in archery for International Women’s Day – 8 March

We're marking International Women's Day on 8 March by sharing the stories of female role models in the sport.

Archery GB ambassador Helen Sharpe explains why she devotes so much time to the sport.

A few years ago, as I sat amongst the parents as our children were all in their coaching session, another parent threw these words at me in anger: "You only have archery in your life!”

He stood there looking at me, waiting for me to argue with him and list all the things that I do outside of archery. My reply was in fact: "Without people like me, who give back - your sport, our sport, wouldn't function on any level!”

So yes, I am proud to say I have, outside my day job and parenting, given much of my time to my sport. On that day I could list myself as:

  • Archer
  • Parent of archers
  • Wife of an archer
  • Club safeguarding officer, treasurer and health and safety officer
  • County secretary and county representative at regional meetings
  • Regional safeguarding officer
  • AGB ambassador

I've also had the privilege of stepping into the county captain's shoes to take care of the county junior squad at a competition when the county captain was away at work.

So, yes I would appear to have nothing else in my life other than archery. Those who know me well know I am incapable of sitting still with nothing to do - to me, that type of relaxation is immensely stressful and makes me restless - often leads to mischief and trouble!

Challenges and opportunities

During the 2020 lockdown, while I was still furloughed and the ranges were closed, I began studying for the first time in a long while. I have since completed three Level 2 courses around mental health and safeguarding related topics, along with some other shorter courses.

May 2020 saw the opening of ranges under restrictions. Many coaches and people on the committee were on the shielding lists, so with the help of three willing volunteers I took on the task of getting the club open, which was made easier by the many webinars and sessions related to archery and multi sports that I had sat in on since early April.

I also worked with Archery GB to get disabled archers back on the field, when they did not have an agent in their household, and I became an agent for an archer who was able to shoot under the disability exemption.

I am constantly in webinars, training sessions and meetings in our sport or across other sports, working together to keep grassroots going. I give around 30 hours a week as an ambassador. Do I only have archery in my life? Probably. Is it an insult? Never. I will work to allow people to enjoy archery because I love it and all that it can give.

Would I recommend you give as many hours as I do to volunteer? No! But I would recommend you find a way to volunteer even a couple of hours a year because in my opinion, you will get something back if you give just a little.

About International Women's Day

Find out more about International Women's Day here, and follow the conversation on social: #BreakTheBias

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