Hartlepool Rovers Ladies RFC are at last to get their own strip – and an iconic, striking design at that – with the designer winning £2,000 in a public competition.
Sarah Diante, who has had no formal artistic training, won out against artists, fashion creatives and the public in the team’s Get Shirty competition to design the new strip with her “bold and innovative” design, as seen on her Instagram page, @littleparkstudio #getshirtycomp.
The competition sought a high-performance, iconic kit to stand out on the pitch and raise the profile of women in sport – and critically for the Rovers Ladies, their own strip to replace the men’s kit they have had to wear to now.
Taking a risk with a beautiful piece of art
Dainte said to wanted to “take a risk” and create something that “symbolises freedom, is forward-thinking, and is bold”, and be “a beautiful piece of art too.” She wins £1,000 for the design, and an additional £1,000 she’s opted to support the ladies’ team.
The competition was set up by the Rovers with Cumbria-based artist company Eden Arts and Hartlepool Borough Council as part of Eden Arts’ Arts Council England-funded #66 projects supporting the region along the A66 from Cumbria to Teesmouth. A panel of judges shortlisted entrees down to four designs which the public then voted on.
Sarah, who has a background in fashion retail, said: “I still can’t believe it. I think putting your art out into the world to be judged is a scary thing.”
Levelling the field for women
She said she was proud to share her art on a platform helping advance women in sports: “We’re playing catchup as historically women at the grass-roots level haven’t been given the same platform to excel at sports and perhaps pursue their sporting ambitions too easily.
“It’s shocking that in today’s day and age, the Hartlepool ladies’ rugby team had to make do with wearing the men’s kit,” she said, commenting on how it felt “touching” to help the team feel positive and confident about themselves with their own kit.
Rovers’ team captain Danielle Jeffreys-Coulton, one of the judges, gave a “massive thank you” from the team to all entrees. “We are looking forward to wearing the fantastic shirts that Sarah has designed.” Sarah’s design will be produced by Macron and will be showcased in September.