UK law is changing. We would like to place cookies on your computer to help us make this website better. We've always done this (it's how websites work!), but the law now says I must ask your permission first. To find out more about the cookies, see the privacy notice.

I accept cookies from this site

UK Registered Charity 1117093
Company Number 5947088

"God answers my prayers everywhere except on the golf-course."

Billy Graham

Eat, sweat, Play

Return to the book list for this category.

Anna Kessel, London, Macmillan, 2016. ISBN 978-1-5098-0809-0

Anna Kessel expresses her purpose in writing the book as follows: “This book is about encouraging women and girls to reclaim sport on their own terms. It is not a lecture about health, but rather an invitation to discover the fun and fulfilment in physical activity and everything that had brings – from better emotional stability to better relationships”.

The story of how Anna Kessel went from being a girl who always tried to skip PE at school to a sports journalist and enthusiastic runner is interwoven with examples from many interviews undertaken across the whole spectrum of women in sport.

The book deals with the traditional arguments that exercise is unfeminine, impossible during pregnancy, difficult for young mothers or during the menopause. It deals with the rampant sexism that Kessel and all the women experience as working professionals in the male dominated world of sport – whether the sexual innuendo or are being asked if he had come to make the tea for the men and the temptation to pretend to be a bloke in order to survive - and the concern of sportswomen that people value their appearance over their sporting achievements.

But much beyond countering the negativity, the book argues for sport as a force for good in women’s lives – building confidence and empowering them. The book even argues that success in sport (and success is interpreted much more widely than just “winning”) can lead to success in life. As one businesswoman said of recruiting sports: “As a sportsperson you’re not offended by criticism, you just use them to improve, and that’s a skill I think a lot of people who haven’t been in sport don’t have”.

Kessell does not pull her punches: “Enjoying sport shouldn’t be akin to joining a private members’ club where you need to be vouched for, learn a secret knock and possess a pair of testicles”.

An excellent and thought-provoking book.

Weekly sports email

Leave your email address if you wish to receive Stuart's weekly sports email: