Manchester, United Kingdom, December 21, 2013 --(PR.com
)-- The Sports Minister, Helen Grant, today saw first-hand the pioneering work taking place in Bury, Greater Manchester, to get more women playing sport as part of the behavioural change campaign, I Will If You Will.
Visiting the Manchester Maccabi Community Sports Club she joined a women’s only bootcamp session and saw the type of activities being offered to increase the number of women taking part in sport in the town. This activity was designed to address feedback from women that they would be more likely to try sport if there were female-only sessions.
I Will If I Will If You Will is a £2.3 million year-long pilot project being funded by Sport England and delivered by Bury Council to tackle the gender gap in sport. Nationwide there are currently 1.7 million fewer women participating in sport than men and the Minister wants that gap to close and more women to find a sport that appeals to them.
She said: “I want to do all I can to help encourage more women to take up sport. That’s what the project in Bury is all about – breaking down the barriers and being innovative to make sport more appealing to women who might think that it’s not for them. There’s a big gap to close between female and male participation but the demand from women for sport is clearly there.”
Best practice from Bury will be used to inform strategy to help increase the number of women participating in sport across the country.
Jennie Price, Chief Executive of Sport England, said: “Increasing the number of women playing sport will reap health, social and economic rewards. This type of behaviour change needs a different approach, as by every measure and at every age, fewer women and girls are currently choosing to play sport. Sport England’s pilot project in Bury will help to provide a powerful understanding of the levers needed, and we are committed to putting these insights to work on a mass scale.”
During her time in Bury, the Minister also visited the O2 call centre. More than half their staff are women and O2 has worked with Sport England and the local project team to install a table tennis table in the office that aims to gradually introduce women to sport.
Sport England’s research shows that women do want to play more sport:
· 12 million women say they would like to do more sport and physical activity
· 6 million are not currently involved in sport but express an interest in taking part
· 1.5 million inactive women are interested in taking up swimming and 0.5 million cycling
· There is strong growth potential in women’s team sport – 0.4 million women play regularly in team sports compared to 3.5 million women doing ‘keep-fit and gym activities’
· 70 per cent of inactive mums would like to take part in sport but 64 per cent said that they feel under time pressure in their lives and that sports that can fit in with their daily schedules are the most appealing.
I Will if You Will is part of a range of projects supported by Sport England designed to tap into this demand and get more women playing sport. These include:
· Investing £1.7 million into the Women Sport and Fitness Foundation to help sports’ bodies attract more women and teenage girls to do sport regularly
· Investing £10 million into 20 Active Women projects to encourage women in disadvantaged communities and women with young children to be more physically active and tackle the gender gap in sport. These include:
Breeze: the biggest programme ever to get more women into riding bikes for fun.
Back to Netball: a programme that helps women throughout the country try out netball or re-engage with the sport
US Girls: a programme which has worked in nearly 50 disadvantaged areas across England to get girls into sport.
Women’s sport is also a big priority across the board in the 46 sports in which Sport England is investing around half a billion pounds over the next four years.
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