FIA Girls on Track takes centre stage with the member clubs | Federation Internationale de l'Automobile

FIA Girls on Track takes centre stage with the member clubs

11.03.21

The third ‘FIA Stronger Together’ webinar, organised as part of the Sport Clubs Solidarity Programme, was dedicated to the FIA Women in Motorsport Commission’s Girls on Track initiatives. With the intention being to showcase the programmes and the different ways they can be implemented on a national level, the FIA welcomed more than 130 delegates from 72 member clubs around the world to the webinar which was presented by Graham Stoker, FIA Deputy President for Sport, and the FIA Girls on Track team.

In his opening welcome and address, Stoker emphasised that with equality and inclusivity at the forefront of the FIA’s agenda, Girls on Track is one of its most important programmes. He urged all ASNs to implement women in motor sport activities and stressed that the various Girls on Track events were the ideal platform to open young eyes to the world of motor sport. He also reiterated the FIA’s obligation as a full member of the International Olympic Committee to introduce initiatives as part of its responsibility to make a significant impact on the involvement of women in sport worldwide.

While unable to join the webinar, Michèle Mouton’s message was one of thanks to the FIA member clubs for their role in supporting the global drive for change. The President of the Women in Motorsport Commission also underlined how their valuable work in rolling out initiatives in support of women in motor sport provides a united and global voice, resulting in a collectively stronger body to effect change.

The Women in Motorsport Commission’s first Girls on Track initiative was launched in 2017 with the support of eight ASNs and the European Commission through its Erasmus + programme. Since that first national and international karting challenge event, the project has evolved and now has three sub-programmes under its umbrella with the different aims of detecting talent, creating educational awareness and reaching out to the female community.

Barbara Silva, FIA Social Responsibility Programmes Manager, underlined the success story of the Women in Motorsport Commission’s most recent programme, Girls on Track – Rising Stars. Maya Weug, the inaugural winner, became the first female student of the world-famous Ferrari Driver Academy in February this year, and she joined the webinar to recount her journey through the selection and assessment process, and emphasise the value of such initiatives to support and inspire young racers.

After presenting the planned timeline for the second running of Rising Stars in 2021, Silva went on to summarise how the clubs could engage with the programme before opening the floor to questions from the delegates.

Claudia Maur, Operations Manager for FIA Girls on Track, then presented the concept and format of the Girls on Track on-site activations that have taken place at high-profile Formula E events and the FIA Motorsport Games in Rome. Originally run in association with Susie Wolff’s Dare to be Different campaign, Girls on Track then evolved into its own brand and is now designed to be an introduction to motor sport for 8-18 year old girls. It gives them the opportunity to try karting first-hand and take part in fun but educational activities that highlight potential career opportunities.

For ASNs, Girls on Track can be integrated into motor sport events nationally, but the concept can also be a very cost-effective karting slalom-based event staged very simply in an urban car park. The FIA also supports ASNs with a comprehensive toolkit that guides a club through the set-up and management of events on any scale. ASNs were also reminded about the possibility of applying for a Sport Grant to support their activities, and a number confirmed they have already successfully engaged with the programme and hosted their own Girls on Track events to give youngsters a taste of the sport.

Finally, Gosia Rdest, FIA Women in Motorsport Project Co-ordinator, presented the Girls on Track – Virtual Experience. Adapting to the pandemic in July last year, these interactive online live talks, webinars and webcasts have enabled the Commission, its ambassadors and role models to connect with thousands of females who are keen to interact with successful and inspirational women who are demonstrating there are no barriers to inclusivity into the sport. Already, these FIA WIM sessions have welcomed more than 10,000 unique participants from over 80 countries, with a total reach of 800,000 people. For the ASNs, these Virtual Experience sessions provide a perfect opportunity to engage with their own community at very low cost, and crucially in their own language. Again, delegates were advised that a dedicated toolkit for virtual events will be available to them by June, and that they can get in contact with the WIM team to create a composite logo with the national ASN.

At the end of the webinar, host and moderator James Allen fielded questions from the delegates to the Girls on Track team, who underlined their commitment to supporting the member clubs in all their activities.

And, in his conclusion to the session, where he thanked the members for their active participation, Stoker introduced his two young daughters, both of whom took part in the Girls on Track event in the UK in 2018. “I was absolutely bowled over by the positive energy, and the girls came away brimming with confidence,” confirmed the FIA’s Deputy President for Sport. “You can’t go wrong with this programme, it has great flexibility as an FIA or national event, and grants are available to assist the ASNs. It is just such a success story.”