The Blog

Closing the gender gap in sport

There is a gender gap in sport – girls not engaging enough with school sports, women less physically active than men – but efforts are being made in Melton to change this.

New research from Women in Sport show girls turn away from school sports in high numbers. It surveyed 25,000 girls and boys from 138 secondary schools across England and Northern Ireland and found a gulf in attitudes towards exercise between girls and boys.

For while girls recognised that being physically active is important (and can help them up the career ladder), only 56% enjoyed taking part compared to 71% of boys. Some 25% of girls cite lack of confidence as a barrier to sport. And only 45% of girls saw the relevance of PE to their lives, against 60% of boys.

The result in Melton, according to the 2015-16 Active People Survey, is that only 31.6% of women (16+) are taking part in moderate physical activity at least once a week, compared to 45% of men.

This girl can Fox

The Youth Sport Trust’s Girls Active programme, which targets girls who are less active and finds ways to get them involved, is seeking to change this imbalance while This Girl Can has also had some success. It celebrates active women ‘who are doing their thing no matter how well they do it, how they look or even how red their face gets’. Both campaigns aim to ‘overcome the fear of judgement that is stopping too many women and girls from joining in’.

Hannah Powell, Legacy Maker at Melton Borough Council, is working on a project with her counterpart in Rutland for a This Girl Can event which will take place in April. It will involve inviting a total of 40 inactive girls (identified by PE teachers) from six secondary schools in the area to take part in a number of different activities and workshops they have chosen themselves to help improve self-esteem, body image and confidence. Local sports clubs will also be invited to run taster sessions to engage this hard-to-reach group.

YST Girls Active logo

In time it’s hoped that the Girls Active programme will be taken into primary schools as research has shown that by age seven girls are already less active than boys and this disparity only widens as they move from childhood into adolescence.

Here’s a brief round-up of some of the girl or woman friendly initiatives operating locally (but it’s by no means comprehensive so feel free to email me at meltonsports@gmail.com):-

* Asfordby Amateurs Ladies’ and Girls’ FC runs Wildcats for girls aged five to 11 where the emphasis is on having fun and making friends through the medium of football. For more information visit the club’s Facebook page or email cmarlow@longfield.leics.sch.uk

* Melton Mowbray Cricket Club has been selected by the ECB to help develop girls’ cricket in the area and has begun girls-only softball cricket sessions for school years 5, 6, 7 and 8 at Long Field Academy. They will resume from February 17. The club aims to field a girls’ team in the Leicestershire and Rutland Youth League next season. For more details call Kathy Tew on 07977 815251

* Jenny Beech of Melton Mowbray Rugby Club has launched Rugby Kids Melton to help tackle some of the things which can put girls off such as the kit worn, the element of competition, team selection and having male coaches. She has run sessions at Long Field where the emphasis has been on having fun, getting fit and building a team bond. She hopes to take the scheme into primary schools, too, subject to securing funding and points out that rugby is a game anyone can play with a position for everyone. For more information email jennifer.beech@ocurem.com or message @rugbykidsmelton on Twitter

* Melton Marvels came about through England Netball’s Back to Netball scheme and has been hugely successful, both socially and competitively. It launched its own junior section and meets every Wednesday at Long Field Sports Hall – minis 6-7pm, Back To Netball 7-8pm and team training 8-9pm. For more details visit the club’s Facebook page or call Becky Greaves on 07850 240848

* Melton Running Club, which meets outside the council offices at Parkside at 6.30pm every Monday, is aimed at recreational runners of all ages and abilities and it’s free. It runs several Couch to 5K beginners’ courses every year and This Girl Can Run nights. It also goes out of its way to support to anyone suffering from depression or anxiety. For more visit its Facebook page

For more information visit www.meltonsportandhealth.org.uk and www.thisgirlcan.co.uk

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