The programme is funded by Comic Relief as part of its ‘Levelling the Field’ initiative.
Research shows that living in a deprived community can have a negative impact on girls’ aspirations – including their educational choices, career pathways and participation in sport or physical activity. Gender stereotypes are particularly entrenched when it comes to sport. Only 43% of girls say they have the same choice as boys at school in sport and exercise; and amongst secondary school-age children, being ‘sporty’ is still widely seen as a masculine trait.
The joint programme seeks to address this problem by helping community sport groups in deprived areas of Scotland, South West England and the West Midlands to tackle gender stereotypes by improving the sport offering for girls and women and better meeting their needs.
The community groups will benefit from expert workshops, gaining insights from Women in Sport’s research into the values and motivations that guide girls’ decision making, and how to apply these to the design, delivery and marketing of tailored sports activities. Each group will be supported by Sported volunteer mentors and regional managers for six months to embed the insights from the training and develop a business plan with a focus on girls’ engagement and inclusion.
Additionally, nine girls from across the project will be identified as peer influencers. The girls will be coached and supported by Women in Sport to encourage their female peers to participate in sport and expand their aspirations.
Chris Grant, Chief Executive at Sported, said: “Sport and activity could play a far greater role in helping girls from deprived communities overcome the barriers they face. With Comic Relief’s funding and Women in Sport’s knowhow, we will help our members create new opportunities for girls to reap the benefits of tailored sporting activities that are uniquely engaging, appealing and accessible.”
Ruth Holdaway, Chief Executive at Women in Sport, said: “Our research tells us that playing sport has wide ranging benefits from building confidence to enhancing career prospects and improving health and wellbeing. Women in Sport campaigns for gender equality in every aspect of sport; from the field of play to the board room. We’re excited about the potential of this programme to transform the lives of vulnerable girls and young women across the UK and to open up sport to a group who are currently hugely under-represented. We are very grateful to Comic Relief for the opportunity this grant gives us to deepen and broaden our work with Sported. By combining forces, together we will harness the power of sport to build a fairer society.”
 The State of Girls’ Rights in the UK (2016). Plan International UK
 Changing the Game for Girls (2012). Women in Sport