Belles who ball

Up close and personal with Tanya Lee

Thursday, March 08, 2018

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SHE believes that sport is a force that can amplify women's voices, tear down gender barriers, claw at discrimination, and defy the misplaced perception that women are weak and/or incapable.

And because of that, she is a champion for the cause. She is a sensational source of inspiration to many, including the young girls she mentors at her alma mater St Hugh's High and the boys at Jamaica College.

Tanya Lee, with over 10 years experience in sports marketing, realised at an early age that getting a seat at the table in a male-dominated field would be a gigantic task.

But her passion served as the wind beneath her wings to push through, and today. she stands as vice-president of marketing at SportsMax, one of the Caribbean's premier sports networks.

She is also author, sports publicist, newspaper columnist, and mentor.

“I want to influence others to think of themselves as strong and capable, and to be able to have a voice and embrace their strengths,” Lee said in a recent interview with the Jamaica Observer.

“I would want little girls and boys to see my work in the sports field and be cognisant of the fact that there are no 'gender spaces' in 2018. Women are fully capable of excelling in any field or endeavour.

“I consider myself able to positively influence both males and females as we work towards creating a more equitable world. No gender should be left behind as the message of equality has to be equally understood by both men and women if we are to truly progress as a nation,” she added.

International Women's Day, celebrated today, arrives at a time when women are ever increasingly prominent in sport.

“International Women's Day is for me a day of recognition and reflection. It is a day to recognise the work of women who have helped to actively erode the gender biases that have existed for centuries, and also a time to reflect on what changes we can each make to support the fellow woman and to pave a path for progress for all of us, males and females.

“It is as hard as it is for women in any other male-dominated domain. The woman's work is often discredited and discounted and I do face that at times, but there are also those moments when the conversations are easier because an attractive woman is having them.

“I do experience a fair share of both. The greatest compliment I can ever be paid is to be acknowledged for the value I bring in the sports space. It's important that women stand up and be counted, and I think more women in sports now, we have eroded some of the gender biases in sports,” she shared.

The Winner Within author, who has a soft spot for football, cricket and basketball, says track and field is her great love.

“I don't think there is any other sport that can match the sheer human athleticism that we have in track and field. I enjoy it, Jamaica does well at it and there is just nothing that excites me more than a good race,” she explained.

“The first sport I fell in love with was cricket, and I guess that's because I am from a family that likes cricket. My father had all girls growing up, and I pretty much became the tomboy of the family and I enjoyed watching cricket with him. It's something that my parents had in common — my mom and dad really enjoyed watching cricket.”

Her personal experiences and those picked up from others in varying fields inspired her recently published book, ' The Winner Within: Lessons from sports about accomplishing anything'.

“I specifically utilised a lot of lessons surrounding athletes who have achieved and some of the qualities that they've displayed throughout the years that have made them into winners.

“The idea is to influence others to embrace some of these qualities and to just channel the winner within themselves... to see what their strengths are and identify what it is that matters to them specifically,” Lee explained.

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