President to call for more entries from women

Patrick Collins, in his first speech at the SJA’s British Sports Journalism Awards as the Association’s President, tonight will call on all women sports journalists to play a more active part in the occasion, especially when it comes to submitting their work to enter the awards.

Patrick Collins presents Jessica Ennis-Hill with the SJA's Sportswoman of the Year trophy. Will Ennis-Hill be the British public's choice tonight?
Patrick Collins presented Jessica Ennis-Hill with the SJA’s Sportswoman of the Year trophy in December. Tonight, the SJA President will address colleagues at the Sports Journalism Awards

Collins is a five-time winner of the Sports Writer of the Year award. Following his retirement after nearly 50 years in the profession, most of which was spent working as the Mail on Sunday‘s sports columnist, Collins was elected as SJA President last April, succeeding Sir Michael Parkinson.

“We all know that this country has a large number of quite brilliant women sports journalists,” Collins will say.

“I encourage them to put themselves forward. And I fervently hope that when the next awards dinner comes round, the number of women candidates will accurately reflect the nature of our trade in the 21st century.”

The SJA’s Sports Writer of the Year award was first presented in 1976, the sports photography categories began in 1977. The SJA introduced its first broadcast categories in 2005.

Tonight, at a dinner at the Lancaster London hotel, the BT Sport-sponsored awards will be presented across 31 varied categories, including TV and radio documentaries, Ladbrokes Specialist Correspondent, Laureus Sports Website of the Year, and for a range of sports photographs.

Collins will make his appeal after revealing that in a year of a record entries overall, the SJA received submissions from only six women in the writing categories, six in photography and two in the broadcast categories.

Collins will also use his key note address to congratulate colleagues who are conducting more investigative-type work than at any time in the past.

“I knew you were always likely to find a tale or two from a year which gave us Blatter and Platini, Diack and the IAAF, a Rugby World Cup and an athletics world championships. But, having looked at some of the entries, I must say I’ve been amazed by the variety and originality of the work produced,” the SJA President will say.

“The quality of your output is an extraordinary tribute to our profession, and at a time when we occasionally have to struggle to make our voices heard, I think it’s worth saying that standard of sports journalism in this country is as high as it ever was, and probably even higher.

“A generation has emerged which is prepared to push boundaries and take stands in a way which would have terrified some of their predecessors, and we should all welcome this development,” Collins will say.

The awards presentation, which is hosted by Jim Rosenthal, is due to begin just after 6.30pm. It is being attended by around 450 guests from newspapers, television and radio.

The final awards – for Sports Commentator, Sports Newspaper, Photographer and Sports Writer – are expected to be announced around 10pm.

You can follow the event on Twitter tonight, using #SJA2015 and on the SJA’s account, @SportSJA.

  • Rights-free images from tonight’s SJA British Sports Journalism Awards, sponsored by BT Sport, are available from Getty Images.
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