Did you know that the five most popular activities to participate in are walking (19%) swimming (17%), visiting the gym (10%), recreational cycling (5%), and road running and jogging (including athletics) (4%).

Vote here

Do you think girls are encouraged to play sport as much as boys?
Free polls from Pollhost.com

e-newsletter :: issue 3

Comment From Sue Tibballs, CEO

It has been a busy time at the Women's Sport and Fitness Foundation since our last update. We were delighted to see such positive debate recently on the role of women in leadership roles at the fourth International Olympic Committee (IOC) World Conference on Women and Sport held in Jordan.

The IOC acknowledged that progress had been slow when meeting previously set targets in relation to female representation on National Olympic Committees and International Federations executive committees, but re-iterated its belief that in order for this to happen, more intervention work was needed across the world. As a key issue identified in our research 'It's Time' that we launched last November, we are pleased to see it is staying high on the international sport agenda. This issue is also raised by Sir Clive Woodward this month; the BOA Director of Elite Performance gives us insight into his views on a range of issues facing women in sport including the need for more female role models and the challenge of media coverage of women's sport.

Continuing on the 'It's Time' theme, the research team have been busy consulting with many of our stakeholders as part of WSFF's bid to publish the first joined up strategy to raise activity levels of women and girls. A working group has now been established, and scheduled interviews will be completed this month. In May/June, we will be conducting an online survey and would love as many of you as possible to complete it. If you are interested in hearing more, please email info@wsff.org.uk with 'It's Time' in the subject line.

The Energy Project, which was launched recently has generated much interest, and we are delighted to reveal that we have recently secured funding to undertake an exciting new project with underactive women in London. We look forward to revealing more details in the coming months.

Sue Tibballs
Chief Executive

Sporting Celeb Q+A

On the back of the fantastic 'Grand Slam' achieved by the Women's English Rugby Team in the RBS Six Nations, we talk to Sir Clive Woodward, Performance Director of the BOA and Head Coach to the 2003 winning World Cup Men's Rugby team.

We asked Sir Clive for his views on some of the challenges to the participation of women in sport, with a focus on media coverage, women in leadership positions, and the value of role models in inspiring women and girls to take part in activity.

What do you think of the media coverage compared to the coverage enjoyed by men's sport?

Clive agreed; "if you take the recent example of the RBS six nations, the men's game is much more high profile and though some progress has been made in promoting the women's game more can always be done. A good example would be playing matches after high profile men's games, that way more people get to see the great standard of play the women's game has now reached".

Do you think there are enough women involved in leadership roles in sport?

"Well, if you take a look at the some of the leading organisations in sport, e.g. UK Sport, Sport England, women are very well represented. But yes, it's probably fair to say there could be more women in some of the NGBs... I would be keen to see more of them coming through on the performance side".

Have you thought about your team of Olympic consultants here at the BOA: why are only three of them are women? (These are Dr Charlotte Cowie, formerly chief medical officer for Team GB at Sydney 2000, Joanne Elphinston, who works with Olympic sports, football, rugby and golf, and Sherylle Calder, who worked with Rugby World Cup winners England (2003) and South Africa (2007) and international cricket teams including Australia.

Sir Clive is surprised: "Only three? Actually I have never thought about it like... I just go for the people who are the best in their field, I always have. But yes, that's interesting only three are women. I guess it says something about the structures below or the attractiveness of sport as a career domain for women"

What more could be done to enable women to take part in sport and fitness activities? Do you think there are enough role models?

"There are some great role models out there, people like Kelly Holmes and Paula Radcliffe are doing a great job, but we need more. We have some great performers whose profile is growing and inspiring others, but we need more in a range of sports: e.g. a women's' champion in tennis would go a long way in breaking down stereotypes in sport.

Do you think the issue of negative stereo typing is still a problem in women's sport?

"Absolutely: I have seen it firsthand. I went to visit Laura Saperstein the boxer recently and she and the other girls face real challenges of perception daily. And it is not easy for them. But it is not until more women take part in more sports, that attitudes will start to change.

So what would get girls and young women to take up more activity, in your view?

I think parents and schools have a huge role in encouraging young people, especially girls, to find a sport or activity they enjoy and take part in it. Take Jess, my daughter:... Jess was really inspired to take part in sport not only at home by us as parents, (well her mother actually: I did not want to push too much"!) but also at school by her teachers. She is now a keen lacrosse player and has even chosen a university to study at where she can continue her sport. Of course we have always supported her, but other influences can really shape the choices kids make".

It's a big year for you in your role at the BOA now with the Beijing Olympics... What are your hopes for these games?

Well we are hopeful that it's going to be a good year in Beijing and I think we will see some great individual performances; watch out for Victoria Pendleton she is looking very promising.

Sir Clive's predictions are very sound: just a few days later Victoria turned in a stunning performance at the World Championships in Manchester: let's hope her form carries on to the summer! We would like to thank Sir Clive for his time in undertaking this interview. On the back of the fantastic 'Grand Slam' achieved by the Women's English Rugby Team in the RBS Six Nations, we talk to Sir Clive Woodward, Performance Director of the BOA and Head Coach to the 2003 winning World Cup Men's Rugby team.

Update from partners

Creating the next female Tiger Woods...

Following the success of a golf taster day that took place last summer in Luton, the English Women's Golf Association (EWGA) and the English Golf Union have continued develop links with BME Community Groups in the East Region.

Identified by local people as an activity they would like to try, the Golf taster days are giving BME women in Cambridge a fantastic opportunity to improve their skills and fitness levels, and also gives the women involved the much needed chance to socialise in a sporting environment. Targeted at 20-30 year olds, the project aims to encourage approximately 30 women into playing golf or developing as coaches.

Lead by governing bodies from Golf the project works in partnership with other organisations: Women's Sports and Fitness Foundation, Menter, Living Sport and the Cambridge Sports Network. Coaching sessions linked to local clubs have been set up to ensure the newly enthused golfers can carry on their new hobby in an established club. But it's not only the women taking part that benefit: the coaches also get the chance to learn more about the barriers that Asian and Muslim women sometimes face in taking part in sport and how to ensure women from the communities get the chance to participate. So watch out for the female Golfers from Cambridge: there may be a few tigers hitting out of the woods very soon!

For more information, contact Aruna by emailing: aruna@menter.org.uk

What's new?

Research Update: Quarterly results from Active People Survey 2: female participation

Early results of Sport England's second year of The Active People Survey show that there has been no significant change in women who regularly participate in moderate intensity sport or active recreation, however, male activity has increased significantly from 21.5% to 22.6%.

Despite this lack of change overall, 18 sports have had significant growth in female participation with just over three quarters being in health and fitness activities. The three largest growth sports are aerobics (2.4% to 2.9%), keep fit (1.2% to 1.8%) and pilates (1% to 1.6%). All of these sports have grown by 0.6 percentage points representing an increase of at least 100, 000 participants.

Overall, the number of people aged 16 and over across England who regularly participate in 30 minutes of moderate intensity sport or active recreation three times a week has increased from 19.0% to 19.7% (an extra 359,423 people) with the 55s and over showing the biggest growth spurt (10.9% to 12.2%). (Participation is defined as adults who have participated at least once in the previous four weeks).

It should be noted that the results in this document compare statistics from the fieldwork mid October 2005-mid January 2006 to mid October 2007-mid January 2008 and the changes reported are statistically significant, but may not necessarily be replicated in future quarters.

Table of increases in sports participation in England, all women:

Sport/ activity Participation Rate (Active People Survey 1) % Participation Rate (Active People Survey 2) % Number of additional participants (Thousands)
SWIMMING / DIVING [INDOORS]13.3%13.6%80,582
ROAD RUNNING1.5%1.9%98,639
KEEPFIT / KEEP FIT / SIT UPS1.2%1.8%125,337
HEALTH AND FITNESS0.4%0.5%32,108
TAI CHI0.4%0.5%27,602
WEIGHT TRAINING0.3%0.5%44,127
STEP MACHINE0.2%0.3%31,746
CROSS TRAINING0.1%0.3%29,040

Source: Active People Survey 1, Quarter 1 compared to Active People Survey 2, Quarter 1.

Who's who at WSFF

Cassie Smith - Head of Insight and Innovation

Out and about

Giving International Women's Day 2008 a Sporty Vibe!

As women around the world celebrated International Women's Day (IWD) on March the 8th, the women and girls across the North West were hugely active in events that ranged from skateboarding competitions to taster days. Projects included:

Leisure in Salford - Women over the age of 16 were offered free Swimming and Gym sessions at all their Fit City Sites with the added incentive of the opportunity to win £50 worth of pampering vouchers.

Manchester City Council Skateboarding competition graphic

Manchester City Council - were very busy supporting a range of projects including the running of a Skateboarding competition with up to £300 prize money and working with 4CT community group to offer a range of women and girls taster sessions for females aged 8 to 80+ at 'The Edge', including Football, Basketball, Badminton, Indoor Bowls, Kickboxing, Tai Chi, Dance and Reiki & Massage.

Amaechi Basketball Centre - hosted a "Day of Women's Basketball" which included fun sessions / festivals for women and girls of all ages followed by a social buffet and free entry to the Mystics (womens team) Game in the afternoon

Canterbury Belles Training - offered opportunities for women to try Rounders in Merseyside with a view to developing new clubs in the area. www.canterburybellestraining.co.uk

Leasowe Recreation Centre - Pensby School Sport Partnership in conjunction with the PE Advisory Team, NGBs, Primary Care Trust and Sporting Champions ran the 'Wirral Girls Active Roadshow' at the recreation centre with the aim of 'encouraging girls to take up the challenge of becoming GirlsActive Champions and to consider innovative ways of encouraging, engaging and retaining girls' involvement in physical activity/sport within school and the local community'. Girls had access to a range of workshops and activities including Street Dance, Spin, Squash, Gold Extreme and Rock-It-Ball. The GirlsActive programme is driven by National School Sport Champion Dame Kelly Holmes.


IWD clearly provided a catalyst for action, which will hopefully lead to more sustainable opportunities for women and girls across the region.

So get thinking everyone - what can we do in sport to make sure that International Women's Day (IWD) has a 'Sporty Vibe' in 2009?!

By Sarah Pickford

Previous e-newsletters

issue 2
issue 1