Sport NI partner with Sported and Women in Sport to promote female participation

An innovative new pilot project that aims to encourage greater participation and increase opportunities for women and girls to get involved in grassroots sport is being rolled out across Northern Ireland thanks to funding from the Department for Communities.


As part of the Department’s continuing investment in women’s sport, Sport NI has partnered with leading Sport for Social Change charity Sported and Women in Sport to launch a new joint pilot programme called ‘Engage-HER’.


Engage-HER will initially see six community sport organisations in Northern Ireland benefit from the combined expertise of Sported and Women in Sport; receiving tailored training and operational support to grow women and girls’ involvement in sport and physical activity.


The programme draws upon Sported’s experience of supporting grassroots groups using sport for social change and Women in Sport’s 30 years of insight-led expertise helping groups remove barriers to participation and improve their understanding of what women and girls want.


The package of benefits will also see each group receive one-to-one mentoring support from Sported to develop a ‘Women and Girls Engagement Plan’. This will help groups put the training and insight from Engage-HER into practice, and foster the development of exciting new sporting opportunities for women and girls across Northern Ireland.


John News, Acting Director of Participation at Sport NI, said: “Sport Northern Ireland is delighted to be working with Sported, Women in Sport, the Department for Communities and our other partners on the Engage-HER pilot programme. Sport NI is committed to encouraging more women and girls to enjoy, engage and excel in sport, and Engage-HER is about developing a more informed and responsive approach to delivering quality sporting experiences for females. We look forward to the roll-out of the pilot programme and wish the six participating organisations well in their work to help women and girls get active, fit and sporty.”


Brenda Kelly, Northern Ireland Manager at Sported, said: “Sport has an important role to play in developing the health and life-skills of young people and bringing communities together. However, across Northern Ireland far fewer girls benefit from sport than their male counterparts. Thanks to funding from the Department for Communities, and together with Sport NI and Women in Sport, we hope to support groups to break down this gender gap.”


Jennie Rivett, Senior Sport Partnerships Manager at Women in Sport, said: “This project funded by the Department for Communities has allowed us to bring our learnings to Northern Ireland for the first time, providing an opportunity to share research and explore how our insights can be applied at a local level. The programme is a really positive step forward and encourages clubs and community groups to think differently about how they engage women and girls.”