Field Hockey Canada > Celebrating the power of sport on International Women’s Day

As much of the world celebrates International Women’s Day, today is a reminder of how much sport can do to empower women and enable them to live meaningful lives.

Simply through the involvement alone, sport – at any level – has the ability to develop key attributes for athletic, professional, and personal success.

“Sport promotes those characteristics of leadership and standing up for your teammates. I think that’s what empowers us,” says Canadian women’s field hockey team captain Kate Gillis.

“That comes with our competition as well. Showing that we can play just as hard and have the same opportunities.”

In addition to its demonstration that a woman can and should be treated equally, sport also often leads to off-field opportunities that enable woman to have a lasting impact on their peers and society at large.

“I think it’s give me the confidence in myself to know that I can back myself. I can get in there and get involved,” says veteran forward Thea Culley, who is a member of Field Hockey Canada’s Board of Directors and also sits on the board for the national athlete advocacy group AthletesCAN.

“It starts when you’re within your team and you start to take on leadership positions,” Culley adds. “You learn to public speak, and speak your mind. From there it opens up opportunities.”

Those opportunities can extend to the highest levels of the sporting world – and beyond – as evidenced by Canadian Mary Cicinelli, who was recently elected to the International Hockey Federation (FIH) Executive Board.

Cicinelli, who, professionally, is a Director of Human Resources and Corporate Services at the Institute for Work and Health in Ontario, has spent the better part of her life dedicated to field hockey.

Starting as a Team Manager before eventually becoming President of Field Hockey Canada, she went on to becoming on of the sport’s most influential people.

“My involvement with field hockey has provided me with many opportunities to learn and work along side some very strong women leaders,” she says. “There were many wonderful female mentors, that have paved the way for today’s women leaders in field hockey, all who have encouraged and empower us to do better.”

For many years, Cicinelli has been and continues to a mentor and role model to many inside and outside the Canadian field hockey community. And those who follow in her footsteps, like current Field Hockey Canada Board Member and business leader Anne McMullin, or current athletes – like Culley and Gillis – continue to prove that sport the perfect place for women to take center stage.

Join us celebrating International Women’s Day by showing your support on social media. Tweet with the hashtags #IWD2016 and #PledgeForParity.

(Feature Photo: Yan Huckendulber)