Holding the door open for everyone… Always…

Following the announcement by Red Bull regarding the athletes that will be competing at Art of Motion 2022, Parkour UK would like to share our continued support for gender equality and equal opportunities.

Art of Motion is an international parkour competition, for 2022 the decision has been taken to select 13 athletes for invitation and offer two online qualifying places. The 13 athletes that have been selected include 2 women and 11 men. This is in direct contrast with 2021 where the qualification procedure was the three podium-finishers from Red Bull Art of Motion 2019, the 12 winners (six men and six women) of the Online Qualifier and, finally, three more contestants who qualified through the Onsite Qualifier. Parkour UK have approached Red Bull to understand the approach they took to deciding which athletes would be selected to compete in 2022, we await a response from Red-Bull.

As an NGB, we are committed to parkour being an inclusive practice and we support the comments made by women from the community, which challenge the imbalance of genders invited to compete at Art of Motion 2022. As well as an awareness of the opinions across social media around Red Bull Art of Motion, Parkour UK spoke directly to Rachel Gough. Rachel competes and runs women, girl and non-binary jams / events. This includes the upcoming This Girl Jam on July 2 & 3rd with workshops, speed and style competitions which are accessible for everyone. 
Rachel shared her views:

“Women deserve a place in this sport, we do not need to prove ourselves, we already have. There is a huge selection of highly talented women who are incredibly interesting to watch, yet Red Bull ignores this. Under representation is a huge issue for any growing sport, how are women supposed to enter and grow in the sport if they’re already being shown that they clearly aren’t as important or valued in the sport? We should not have to constantly compare ourselves to men, to keep up with men to be allowed a place, we deserve a place, we aren’t men, we are women.”

Parkour UK believe that equitable treatment is important, particularly with regards to visibility. Women’s visibility in sport is pivotal. Women athletes serve an inspirational role model for girls. They show girls what is possible. If girls mostly see men competing, they’re less likely to think this is an activity they can take part in or belong in. It is something supported by Women in Sport who highlight eight principles for success which set the challenge to ‘Hold the door open for everyone’.

Women in Sport also talk about the importance of role models close to home and further afield in their report ‘What sways women to play sport?’. The report references six identified spheres of influence or sway factors, with one being ‘possibilities; opening her eyes to what she can do’.

We can see there is brilliant work going on in the community which drives opportunities for women and girls, which include:

  • We believe that the women’s parkour courses run by Train Hard / The Parkour Project support making parkour more accessible to women and girls in their area – they include women only sessions and are free to access.
  • We support ‘The Women’s International Parkour Weekend’ run by Parkour Generations for offering women and non-binary people a non-competitive, supportive and welcoming space to explore movement.
  • We support the approach that NovaCity have taken within Project Underground 9 and other jams / events, where they have included separate women’s competition with equal prizes in the programme.

Further information on the examples given can be found at the bottom of this statement.

The Future 

In the short term…

We are making an active effort to amplify opportunities and successes of women in the community. You can help us by sharing the details of opportunities and jams that you would like us to promote, or by making suggestions for what we can be doing? Please contact us here.

In the long term…

We believe that representation from a wider cross section of society will encourage more people to believe that they belong and can participate and engage fully and equally in parkour. Our plans to improve diversity and inclusion in the sport will be set out through a subcommittee and a Diversity and Inclusion Action Plan. Through this work we will publish clear ambitions to ensure our work represents and reflects the diversity of the parkour community. 

Our Independent Director Natasha Preville, who is the board lead for diversity and inclusion, stands by the written piece in 2020. Natasha believes “Parkour is, by its very nature, inclusive and rights focussed, and we believe everyone is entitled to equitable opportunity to access. Therefore, we will never tire to challenge negative stereotypes and experiences as a progressive and forward thinking NGB”

Examples of good practice in the parkour community

Train Hard Women’s parkour courses – Between September 2021 and April 2022, Train Hard Parkour & Freerunning successfully delivered ‘Introduction to Parkour’ courses for less well-represented demographics in parkour made possible through a grant from Bournemouth, Christchurch & Poole Council via the Bounce Back Challenge fund. The programme included parkour courses for girls and women aged 6-9, 10-14, 14-17 and 18+ and attracted 165 women participants, many of whom have continued to attend regular classes after these courses. Check out this video from BBC South Today.  

Parkour Generations Women’s International Parkour Weekend – We are pleased to see this event returning and encouraging more women and non-binary people into Parkour and movement. Providing an entirely non-competitive, supportive and welcoming space where we can explore both our general environment and our inner landscape is important for personal growth and development as a movement community.⁠ Whether you’re a woman or non-binary traceuse, climber, crossfitter, runner, weightlifter, gymnast or general mover. This event is a celebration of YOUR movement.⁠

NovaCity – Through their Project Underground 9 event NovaCity brought together practitioners from across the world, helping to grow parkour practice across the country. The event was conducted over 3 days and designed to be attractive to all parkour practitioners as it offers the chance to train, compete or spectate. The competition itself was split into 3 discipline categories and 3 age categories, and a separate women’s competition, all with equal prizes.