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The Women's Sports Alliance

PRESENTS...

Meet Phil Benton: WSA’s Newly Appointed Advisory Board Chair

With a wealth of experience in the sports industry, Phil is a prominent figure who brings a unique blend of leadership and strategic expertise to his new role.



With a remarkable 27-year tenure at adidas, Phil's impact has been nothing short of transformative. He served as the General Manager in London, overseeing vital operations and fostering growth within the region before becoming Vice President of Sales for the UK and Ireland, a true testament to his exceptional leadership.


Phil's dedication to advancing the sports industry and his unparalleled understanding of its dynamics make him an ideal fit for his role as the Chair of Women’s Sports Alliance’s Advisory Board. His comprehensive background in leadership, strategic planning and sales, combined with his current responsibilities, ensures that under his guidance, WSA will continue to thrive and make significant strides in shaping the future of women’s sport.


We caught up with Phil about his experience and what he can offer WSA.



Q – For someone with your extensive experience, how do you feel commercial awareness has grown around women’s sport in the last decade?


Commercial awareness has accelerated significantly in the last five years. A lot of this has been due to more seminal moments within and across women’s sport. These moments have been showcased with supporting data highlighting the engagement both in viewing figures and the growing commercial return. This has been further accentuated with robust future forecasts showing commercial growth which has led to a better understanding of the long-term commercial opportunity.



Q – What do you think has been the catalyst for this growth?


There are a variety of reasons that have coincided to generate the exponential growth in women’s sports that we’ve seen but a fundamental one is the gradual societal change to reject the status quo and create a fairer more equitable society.


Sport is a very visible barometer of this and has benefitted from the shift. While education of the situation has been paramount, this has been supported by shifts in governmental policies and some brands moving their investments into women’s sport to highlight a more visibly balanced brand position.


Q – Have you seen an increase in female participation in sports during your career and if so, what has this looked like?


There has been a clear increase in participation during my career, (however that’s also been mirrored during this period with a continuously high dropout rate). The participation has been seen in an increase in more high-profile women’s sporting events, more athletes being visible role models and, across a number of sports, a more structured, supportive introduction to girls and women to these sports. From a career perspective, that was reflected in the changing nature of internal reporting that saw more women’s participation and sales specific reports created each year.



Q – How has the discussion around female participation in sport evolved outside of the professional sphere?


The discussion has definitely evolved around participation at all levels in all sports and there is more awareness of the barriers to entry and of the barriers to continued participation. However, there is a still long journey ahead to ensure the many requirements, facilities and support networks are put in place and evolved to overcome those barriers.



Q – How has this evolution in the discussion impacted female consumers in terms of sports retail?


There has been a development of more relevant products be that footwear, apparel or equipment for women athletes. This alongside the evolving discussion of what women athletes (at all levels) need and respond to has been reflected in more defined space for women’s sports in retail stores. This evolution has then been supported by better product information, greater staff training on women’s product and more experiential retail activations focused solely on women athletes and the product.



Q – How important are initiatives such as Breaking Barriers Project, and how important is WSA’s involvement in projects like this?


Projects such as Breaking Barriers are a vital part of the developing ecosystem that has toevolve for women’s sport to continue its growth.Beyond high profile, well promoted athletes and events which WSA highlight, communities and grassroots are vital to engage and encourage girls to participate and to remain in sport. WSA’s involvement is key to help, promote, educate and spread the message. Visibility and education are key to engagement and to highlight the opportunity that is there and to provide confidence.  


Q – How do you see women’s sport evolving over the next 10 years, and what role will organisations like WSA play in the next decade?


Women’s Sport will continue to grow in its visibility as investment from the broadcasters, sports brands and non-sport brands continues to increase. This will lead to better facilities and more professionals across many sports. There will be an increase in desire for participation. This will only be achieved if investments in the infrastructure and ecosystem at a grassroots level reflects that at the top end of women’s sports. Organisations such as WSA have to continue to promote the role models and events within women’s sport to create inspiration and to also highlight the pathways that exist to help educate and give confidence to all girls and women who want to participate in sport (at whatever level that might be). WSA will do this by working in partnership with athletes, governing bodies, organisations and brands to promote and educate.


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