Sport Football The amazing world record attempt set for Mount Kilimanjaro

The amazing world record attempt set for Mount Kilimanjaro

Laura Youngson came up with the idea when frustrated. Photo: ABC
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Laura Youngson was sitting on the couch watching TV and complaining about the inequality facing women in sport when suddenly something clicked.

“I thought, ‘Well you should just get up and do something’,” she told ABC News Breakfast.

What followed was a mammoth new project and the start of the Equal Playing Field initiative.

Next month, 37 women from 20 countries will climb to the summit of Mount Kilimanjaro in Tanzania in an attempt to break the Guinness World Record for the highest altitude soccer match ever played.

In doing so they hope to raise awareness for inequality in women’s sports right across the globe.

“How it’s represented in the media, how women’s coverage is less, and then also the pay is grossly unfair,” Ms Youngson said.

“It’s a lot of the invisible mountains that women have to face in sport.

Two all-female teams will take a seven-day hike to a crater on the mountain almost 6,000 metres high and play a game of soccer on a rough and rocky flat patch.

“We’ve been told it’s still going to be about minus 13,” Ms Youngson said.

“We’ve got the flat ground sorted, but I don’t think it’s going to be the best game ever, it will probably be tactical and passing.”

The initiative includes some of the biggest names in soccer, including German World Cup star Petra Landers, Australia’s former FIFA World Cup referee Jacqui Hurford, and Afghanistan international football player Hajar Abufazi. Players from Canada, Australia, USA, UK, Egypt, Argentina, UAE, Jordan, Lebanon, Nepal, France, Mexico, Sweden, Singapore, Switzerland and Thailand will also take part.

“The power of sport should never be underestimated,” Ms Youngson said.

“It can change lives, through increasing young women’s beliefs in their own abilities, encouraging them to take initiative and aim high.”

Gender equality in Australian sport has been particularly focused on women’s soccer in recent years, with the national team the Matildas locked in a pay dispute.

In 2015, the basic Matildas contract was $21,000 a year, about a tenth of a Socceroo playing all Socceroos matches.

The interim deal struck in late 2015 brought the minimum to $34,000.

The 2016 Gender Balance In Global Sport report found systemic inequality problems across multiple codes, especially when it comes to pay.

“The general public acceptance that the ubiquitous gender pay gap in sport is an unfortunate by-product of the increasingly commercial nature of sport, where major media rights and sponsorship contracts drive many tournament and player pay cheques,” the report found.

Ms Youngson said it was inspiring to bring together so many women for the Equal Playing Field initiative, which didn’t end once they came down the mountain.

“We are running some football camps in lots of different countries after the trek for women and girls and training up coaches in order to grow the body of women that play soccer and enjoy soccer,” she said.


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