December 3 - British Sports Minister Helen Grant and London 2012 boxing champion Nicola Adams have lent their support to Sport England's drive to get more women involved in sport by visiting projects in Bury and Sheffield today.
Grant, who replaced Hugh Robertson as Sports Minister in October, joined Adams at the England Institute of Sport in Sheffield where they met with female boxers who are part of the campaign to encourage more women to get into sport.
Research from Sport England claims 12 million more women say they would like to do more sport and physical activity while six million are not currently involved in sport but express an interest in taking part.
"It is really important that we get more women doing exercise and being active and those that have taken-up boxing or boxing training will definitely find that it has a really positive impact on their health, fitness and well-being," said 31-year-old Adams, winner of the flyweight gold medal at London 2012.
Sport England claim there are currently 1.7 million less women taking part in sporting activity than men nationwide.
While figures show that around 3.5 million women take part in fitness programmes and gym activities, only 400,000 play regularly in team sports.
Before visiting Sheffield, Grant was in Bury to take a look at the "I Will If You Will" pilot project being run in the Manchester Maccabi Community Sports Club.
The year-long £2.3 million ($3.8 million/€2.8 million) programme, funded by Sport England and delivered by Bury Council, offers women in the area female-only sessions trying out a variety of sports following research which indicated that women are more likely to try sport if there were female-only sessions.
"I want to do all I can to help encourage more women to take up sport," said Grant.
"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."
Some of these projects include a campaign called "Breeze" aimed at getting more women into riding bikes; Back to Netball, which allows women to try out netball or reengage with the sport; and a programme working with girls in disadvantaged areas called US Girls.
"Increasing the number of women playing sport will reap health, social and economic rewards," said Jennie Price., Sport England's chief executive.
"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."
More information on the I Will If You Will campaign can be found here.
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