Women in Tower Hamlets are to benefit from a new scheme aiming to boost their participation in sport. Sports4Women has been given almost £262,000 to help women overcome some of the hurdles that stop them from keeping active.
The scheme, which was developed through local consultation, identified cost, timing of sessions and a lack of women-only sports facilities as the major issues. It aims to get 1,400 women active across the borough within three years by providing 22 hours weekly, free, women-only sports sessions in leisure centres throughout the borough for 48 weeks per year.
The funding is from Sport England’s new ‘Active Women Fund’, which was set up to help tackle the gender gap in sport. The difference was highlighted in December by figures released by the body, which showed that only one in eight women took part in regular sport, compared to one in five men. In poorer communities this figure falls to just one in ten.
The scheme is part of the drive to deliver a mass participation legacy for sport after the 2012 Olympics with coaching and competition playing a major role. It will create opportunities for women to take part in different sports – including tennis, basketball and badminton – on both a casual and competitive basis, as well as providing access to trained professionals in ‘pay and play’ sessions, helping women excel in their chosen sport.
Participants will also be able to to gain coaching qualifications – initially working alongside existing personnel, before linking with sports clubs to deliver their own sessions.
Michelle Davies, Leisure Management Contract & Partnership Manager at Tower Hamlets Council said: “This is fantastic news for residents in Tower Hamlets. Many mums lead hectic lifestyles and anything we can do to make it easier for them to get fit and active is welcome.
“I hope the projects we are supporting will encourage more women to make sports a regular fixture in their daily lives,” she added.
Sport4Women was one of 20 projects to win funding, from a total of nearly £10 million. For the full list see here.
Speaking at the launch of the Active Women Fund yesterday, Jennie Price, Sport England Chief Executive, said: “The projects we’re funding today have asked local women what is preventing them from getting involved and what sports interest them, before coming up with an offer that is appealing and accessible”.
Former Olympic silver medal-winning badminton player Gail Emms, who became a mum nine months ago, welcomed the scheme:
“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 project receiving investment from Sport England will make a big difference because they’ve really thought through the challenges women face in becoming regular sports participants,” she said.