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£10m to get more women playing sport

Published: 9th January 2011 23:41

On Thursday, Sport England revealed the sports projects that will benefit from a £10 million National Lottery fund to encourage Active Women and tackle the gender gap in sport.

The targeted investment will support 20 projects to get more women from disadvantaged communities - and women caring for children - playing sport as part of the drive to deliver a mass participation legacy from London 2012.

Figures published by Sport England in December revealed the size of the gender gap in sport. At present, one in eight (2.761 million) women regularly play sport in England. Whilst this has increased significantly in the past five years, it still trails behind men's participation, with one in five (4.176 million) taking part. Women from disadvantaged communities play even less sport, with less than one in 10 women taking part.

Through Active Women, sports groups, charities and others organisations across the country were challenged to consult local women and then develop sporting projects that dealt with the barriers to participation they highlighted.

Sport England

Jennie Price, Sport England's Chief Executive, said:

"For many women with children or those managing a tight budget, sport - and time to themselves - can slip down the list of priorities. The projects we're funding today have asked local women what is stopping them from getting involved and what sports interest them, before coming up with an offer that is appealing and accessible."

Thursday's announcement was welcomed by the Minister for Sport and the Olympics, Hugh Robertson MP and Gail Emms - one of Britain's greatest ever badminton players, who won World Championship Gold and Olympic Silver medals.

Hugh Robertson said:

"We have many fantastic female athletes in this country, but not enough women participating at sport's grassroots. More needs to be done to encourage women to participate in sport, particularly those from disadvantaged communities. The £10 million being invested by Sport England will give women the chance to try out new sports as part of a dedicated programme and hopefully keep them in sport in the future."

Gail, who became a mum nine months ago with the arrival of Harry, said:

"As a new mum, I know only too well how difficult it can be to make time for yourself and to get out there and play sport. The projects receiving investment from Sport England today will make a big difference because they've really thought through the challenges women face in becoming regular sports participants."

Chosen through a competitive process, the investment decisions announced include:
  • Netball in the City - which will get over 12,000 women back on the court in Bristol, Leeds, London, Manchester, Newcastle, Nottingham and Wolverhampton. More than £1 million has been awarded to England Netball for the project, which will provide fun and accessible sporting opportunities, through both traditional and modified versions of netball.
  • A council's domestic violence team will receive £154,509 to run a sports project at Hyndburn in Lancashire for women who've suffered abuse. Fit, Free & Fabulous will use the power of sport to help women to improve their health and self-esteem.
  • £2.295 million has been awarded to a project that will get 30,000 women playing ‘doorstep sports' in 49 of the most disadvantaged areas in England. Delivered by a consortium of sports organisations, led by charity StreetGames, it will also see over 200 events and festivals organised and 1,700 new coaches and volunteers recruited.
  • A grant of £147,000 is going to Southampton charity Catch 22 for a project that will introduce women to activities such as boxercise, badminton, swimming and canoeing. Childcare will be provided for mums and lots of local sessions will be offered at a very low cost, with keen participants encouraged to stay on as volunteers or take coaching badges.
  • A National Women's Cycling Network will be created thanks to a £992,159 investment which will see 80,000 women getting on their bikes. British Cycling will: recruit cycling champions to organise led-rides and inspire others to take part; recruit women cycling instructors to teach basic skills and help people gain confidence on the roads; and organise nine women-only mass cycling events.

Sue Tibballs, the Chief Executive of the Women's Sport and Fitness Foundation, said:

"WSFF welcomes Sport England's investment to increase the number of women from disadvantaged communities and mothers playing sport. Women make up over 50% of the population, yet despite this, many often find it hard to access sport due to a complex set of barriers and practical requirements. Projects tailored specifically to meet the needs of female participants are hugely beneficial and support our goal of creating a nation of active women."


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