Whether it’s from 320 metres below or 5,714 metres above sea level, 2017 alumna Laura Youngson is kicking serious goals for women and girls in sport. Having achieved two world records for the lowest and the highest FIFA games in history in less than a year, Laura is fast becoming a strong voice in women’s sports advocacy globally.

Finding a solution

As a keen sportswoman, Laura had grown tired of watching women sit on the sidelines. She saw limited opportunities, pay disparities and little respect for females in sport, from grassroots levels through to elite leagues. Compelled to do her part to change this, she cofounded Equal Playing Field (EPF), a global movement and non-for-profit initiative to promote gender equality in sport and deliver women’s sports development programs.

To make a bold statement, EPF decided to take on high-profile challenges, starting with the Guinness Book of World Records. In June 2017, Laura and the team took home their first record for playing the highest altitude soccer match ever, on a volcanic ash pitch atop Mt. Kilimanjaro in Tanzania.

The next great challenge

This April, Laura and EPF turned to the Dead Sea region of Jordan to play their way into the record books again, this time for the lowest altitude match ever played. Among the players were some of the world’s most renowned women footballers from more than 20 countries, showcasing national-level talent while sending a strong message of hope for women and girls everywhere. Timed to help launch the 2018 AFC Asian Women’s Cup, the Jordan tour included days of exhibition games and skills camps to boost support for the tournament internationally, as well as for the sport at a community level.

“We want to encourage more girls to challenge expectations and have no limits when it comes to sport. Our message is clear: invest in women and girls in sport and see them thrive.”

Beyond the whistle 

For Laura, advocacy doesn’t stop at the soccer pitch. As Cofounder of Ida Sports, she is part of a team developing the first affordable soccer boots designed for women. The startup was born during her time studying the Master of Entrepreneurship at Wade Institute and continues to grow as part of Wade’s new accelerated bridging program, Wade Inc.

With her sharp business acumen and solid commitment to equality, we have no doubt Laura will continue to forge meaningful change for women’s sport around the world.