Manchester, as we well know, is more commonly associated with the beautiful game, but on a chilly November morning in Trafford, girls from Foundation partner schools were trying their hand at something a little different.
Girls On Track is a joint initiative between the FIA (Fédération Internationale de l'Automobile, motorsport’s global governing body) and Motorsport UK, designed to inspire girls and women into seeing and believing that there is a rightful and valuable place for them in the motorsports industry.
Taking place at TeamSport, a karting track just down the road from Old Trafford, the event was attended by the likes of Alpine F1 Team, Nebula Racing, a motorsport fitness trainer and a journalist, all in attendance with one goal in mind: to inspire and encourage an interest in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) subjects and industries among the girls.
Many of the 80 participants in attendance will never have been afforded this type of exposure before or indeed realise that these opportunities exist, which is why it was great to see girls sampling a variety of different professions in the world of racing, including pit-stop and fitness challenges, a karting race and the opportunity to interview the race winner.
Wena, a student at Whalley Range High School, said: “We were able to drive a go-kart and had the whole track to ourselves!
“We also got the chance to build small cars and race them with a remote control. I find it really interesting how things are built; that’s definitely my kind of thing.”
Claire Harrop, Manchester United Foundation’s female development officer, who helped facilitate the event, highlighted the importance of initiatives like these and why they stand to provide long-term benefits.
“For a lot of the young people we work with, these kind of opportunities will have never even crossed their minds, let alone the thought that it might be accessible for them. These girls are all in year 7, so are at an age where exposure to things like this are invaluable, as it might just plant a seed in their heads.
“The girls have relished today’s event and they loved the activities on offer. Our Girls’ Development programme is very much about making things accessible for our young people and this event has certainly achieved that, whilst also giving the participants a really memorable day.”
Girls on Track events take place up and down the country with the aim of promoting diversity in the sport and highlighting that there really is something for everyone.
Jenny Tcherniak, Girls on Track UK programme manager, said: “We wanted the girls to learn three things today: that motorsport isn’t just for boys, that there are thousands of opportunities for them in the industries beyond being a racing driver, and for them to come out of their comfort zone in a supportive, all-female environment.
“It’s incredible to experience that ‘light-bulb moment’ with the girls when you can see they’ve really taken to something they knew nothing about. The key is for them to see it to believe it!”