Finding Her Voice: Danielle Waterman speaks out about gender inequality and online abuse

HSBC, title partner of the HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series, releases its latest sports documentary, Finding Her Voice.

This film captures the reality of being a female in the sports industry.  Danielle ‘Nolli’ Waterman is arguably one of rugby’s greatest ever fullbacks, a former world champion and a pioneer of the women’s game.  Nolli opens up on her ambition to help drive change, to inspire, and to create opportunity for girls and women within the industry.

In the documentary, Nolli speaks about her experience of swapping a rugby ball for a microphone to forge a new career in the world of sports commentary. Nolli takes us on an emotional journey, sharing the highs and lows of being a woman working in sports media.  The harsh reality of her exposure to online trolling, particularly when commentating on men’s rugby matches, brings home the affect this all too common form of abuse has on mental health and wellbeing.

With a strong support network from the likes of Lynne Cantwell, former Ireland rugby player and fellow commentator David Flatman who feature in the documentary, Nolli discusses being a role model, the idea of ‘seeing is believing’ and the hope that by putting herself out there, whether as a rugby commentator or as an ambassador on the HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series, she will inspire change, encourage others to stand up for inclusivity and show that sport is for everyone.

Nolli speaking on the launch of the film said: “When HSBC first asked me if they could share my story in a documentary, I never imagined that they would invest so much time and energy in creating something so awesome.  It was quite emotional watching the final edit for the first time and although it was a little overwhelming, it has been a real privilege to tell my story and be open about the highs and lows I have experienced along the way.

“When people ask what should be done to improve the opportunities for women in sport, for me it’s things like this documentary.  It provides the opportunity to help bust myths and begin to change the narrative of what is possible.

“I hope by sharing my personal journey people gain the confidence to step outside of their own comfort zone and believe they can do whatever they want. I have been given a number of incredible opportunities, but it is now down to me to make the most of them and work hard to be the best I can.  Watch this space.”

HSBC has been partner of the HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series for over 10 years and in that time, has been committed to driving meaningful change across the series, playing a crucial role in the coming together of the men’s and women’s series to position rugby sevens as a leader in gender equality in sport. Central to HSBC’s partnership with rugby sevens is its desire to build a sustainable and accessible future for the sport.  The global rugby grassroots programme has opened up opportunities for tens of thousands of girls to pick up a rugby ball and play the game, often for the very first time.

Jonathan Castleman, Group Head of HSBC Brand and Brand Partnerships commented: “Opportunities should be available to everyone, regardless of gender, race or background. This remains at the very heart of our business and we’re proud to be able to help Nolli tell her story.  Like Nolli, our ambition through our partnerships is to inspire the next generation of girls and women to believe they can follow in her footsteps, and we remain committed to supporting a greater voice for women in sport to help drive positive change.”

The documentary was produced by female sports journalist and producer Laura-Jane (LJ) Jones, CEO of Blonde Ambition Media, who helped shape the documentary to create a raw and inspiring insight into Nolli’s struggles, accomplishments and aspirations as a commentator.

LJ commented: “Bringing Nolli’s story to the screen like this has been a real pleasure and honour as her friend, but it has also felt like we’ve really been able to create something that will speak to so many women’s experiences in all walks of life.

“I truly believe the themes and topics in the documentary will resonate with so many women, and the balance with which Nolli delivers it will only help to educate as well.”

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