Commonwealth Games 2022: Helen Housby celebrates rise of women’s sport

When Helen Housby was growing up, she looked to David Beckham for inspiration.

An understandable role model for an avid Manchester United fan, but the choice was partly out of necessity.

Housby did not see many sportswomen on screen or in the newspapers when she was a child.

But things have changed since then.

Four years ago, Housby became an icon for young netballers everywhere with a last-second goal to take a historic Commonwealth netball gold for England.

Later this month, England will bid to defend that title on home soil at the first Commonwealth Games with more medal events for women than men.

It will not be the first major event celebrating sportswomen this summer. On 31 July, Housby may take advantage of a break between her group games to watch the Euro 2022 final played in front of a sold-out Wembley.

“I would have loved to have had more female role models,” the 27-year-old tells BBC Sport. “Now, luckily, I’ve got loads.”

A game-changing win

In 2018, Housby ensured that one of the iconic images of the Commonwealth Games was of women.

“I’ve seen that photo a lot,” the shooter says of the picture of her, tongue blue from an energy drink, at the bottom of a pile-on with her England team-mates.

The side’s greatest ever victory, against favourites Australia, was a turning point for the sport and for Housby personally. She says it remains the best day of her life.

Housby’s Instagram “blew up” after, including a congratulatory comment¬†from Beckham himself.

Since that win, she has been invited to sit in the directors’ box at Old Trafford “quite a few times” and met club legends like Sir Bobby Charlton.

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