Skip to main content

Great Britain women’s international – and BAFA ambassador – Phoebe Schecter and CEO Pete Ackerley joined a packed All Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) for Sport reception on the eve of International Women’s Day which explored ways to break down the barriers to the growth of female participation in sport. 

The event hosted by Chair of the group, Kim Leadbeater MP focused on themes around The power of women’s sport. It included attendees from many of the 320 national representative bodies of sport and recreation – offering a platform to share experiences and reinforce the value of leading, volunteering as well as participating in physical activity among women and girls.

Schecter said: “The APPG for Sport Session for International Women’s Day was a brilliant forum to moderate and provoke much needed conversation around the participation of women and girls in sport. It was key to hear the conversations around how we can excite change, break down barriers to participation and continue to inspire our current athletes, coaches and volunteer workforce.”

Leadbeater insisted that inclusion must “a central theme” adding: “There is not enough equal access in schools. Facilities not available and other barriers exist.”

As a curtain raiser to International Women’s Day, this morning the Government set out new standards for equal access to sports, making it clear that girls and boys should be offered the same sports during PE and extracurricular time in schools. The package of measures is designed to boost equal opportunities in school sport both inside and outside the classroom.

Schools that successfully deliver equal opportunities for girls and boys will be rewarded through the School Games Mark, which will assess parity of provision in PE and extracurricular sport. Schools are also being asked to offer a minimum of two hours curriculum PE time and Government will provide support to schools on how to do this through the upcoming refresh of the School Sport Action Plan.

The event follows the launch this week of a new insight by Women in Sport uncovering why girls as young as five years old don’t feel they belong in sport. The research has found that girls are being bombarded by messages and labels that undermine their self-belief, crush their confidence, and make them feel as though sport is not a place for them.

Over half of parents (57%) of girls said their daughter had felt excluded from sport. Of those 26% said their daughter had been told, ‘it wasn’t for girls’. When asked if they’d describe their child as ‘sporty’ just 27% of parents of daughters agreed, compared to 37% of parents of boys. The report, ‘Sport, stereotypes and stolen dreams: Why girls still feel they don’t belong in sport’, found girls are heavily influenced by parents, family, peers, and the school environment, with marketing and media playing more of a role as girls get older.

BAFA Chief Executive Pete Ackerley said: “We welcome the government announcement of further investment into girls’ sport – announced this morning and the further insight that has been shared this week about the challenges that remain in ensuring greater participation. We will be using this report and other insight to develop our strategy for growth of the women’s game and to get more girls playing.

“I also want to celebrate the fantastic women who support our game – both within the ranks of our organisation and the wider Britball community.”

Sport, stereotypes and stolen dreams: Why girls still feel they don’t belong in sport