The push came after increased outcry from non-male athletes, who are forced into purchasing ill-fitting male clothes as opposed to having access to gender specific items.
In her email distributed to committee members, Benthe outlined her ongoing quarrels not only with Canterbury but the world of sport.
“Currently, most of our kit is still only available in men's sizes, and for the few items that are available in women’s sizes, the sizes do not seem to be accurate to what they should be, compared to other brands.”
“I’d like to stress that this is not ‘just’ a Canterbury problem, but a problem in the global world of sport that is still mainly focused on men, and fails to acknowledge the diversity of genders within sport.”
“I want to make it clear that as your Athletic Union Officer, I will do everything this year to make sure that all genders are treated equally to get the help and support they deserve. All genders deserve the right clothing, and should not have to order and pay for clothing that does not fit correctly.”
Canterbury, as part of the Pentland Group, has been appointed as the official kit supplier to the NUSU and NU for the period 1 April 2018 to 31 March 2020, with two 1 year options to extend this to 31 March 2022.
Canterbury work alongside SportsWorld to provide kit for all NU sports teams. Clubs at the University are obligated to wear a Canterbury kit.
If Canterbury is not able to source a suitable kit then the AU Club can apply for a special dispensation to use another kit supplier. This alternative kit supplier must be authorised by the Athletic Union Officer and Director of Sport.
When asked by The Courier to elaborate on the significance of this issue, Benthe had the following to say.
“If we are to stand by the NUSU values of being inclusive, effective and progressive then we must push forward in all equality issues. The reality of male clothing being the [only] viable option to kit out teams is simply not good enough. The alternative is badly sized and misjudged body shapes leaving little choice for other genders.”
“Although progress has been made in sport (Sport England published in 2019 that despite the improvements, inequalities in sport remain) there is still a long way to go and kit sizing shouldn’t be a barrier in feeling confident, comfortable and therefore able to perform. In short, sport should be accessible for everyone, and when someone competes in sport, they should be able to do so in clothing that fits them.”
“SportsWorld have confirmed that Canterbury is working on a woman’s sportswear range, however this is long overdue and to my disappointment won’t be available until 2021”.
“Over the years, the Athletic Union Officers have worked hard in trying to improve inclusivity through amazing campaigns like This Girl Can and Inclusive Sport Week, as well as employing a Inclusive Sports coordinator. Although we acknowledge there is still work to be done, inclusivity and accessibility are a priority in my work this year as your Athletic Union Officer.”