Wales

Sport Wales campaign for more women to get into sport

Ruby Woods Image copyright Sport Wales
Image caption Ruby Woods, 26, from Milford Haven, Pembrokeshire organises female only bike rides

Childcare, careers and a lack of confidence are among barriers faced by women in accessing sport, the governing body Sport Wales has said.

Sport Wales undertook a survey which showed 54% of women had done at least one activity in the previous four weeks compared to 63% of men.

It has launched a new campaign focusing on the social side of sport to encourage more women to get involved.

The Our Squad site lets people register activities and contact organisers.

The online community unites a variety of sports, from roller derby to softball, and encourages women to get involved and try out the site's different sporting offerings.

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Media captionFitness instructor Jin Osborne from Penarth helps women get active

Sport Wales chief executive Sarah Powell said the campaign was about seeing sport in a different light and "putting fun at the forefront".

"We're not telling people about sport, rather we're tapping into what motivates them to take part," she said, adding a lot of women and girls surveyed said they took part for social reasons.

'The first steps'

Ms Powell added barriers women faced getting into sport included children, career and lack of confidence, but she hoped the campaign would encourage them to "take the first steps".

The body drew on research from the National Survey for Wales highlighting the lower levels of female participation in sport.

Starting young

Sara Phillips, 12, plays for Wales' female under-13 team, and also for Carmarthenshire under-13 boys, Llanelli Cricket Club's under-15 years team, the second team and last Saturday she played for first team too.

It is the first time in Llanelli's 178-year history a female has been chosen to play for the first team.

Sara hopes she will inspire other girls to play cricket. "Sometimes they only see boys playing, but girls have more of a chance to play because there aren't many of us, so it helps us improve in sport," she said.

Second team captain Rhys Westcott said: "The point was discussed by the two club captains who felt it was the right time to bring the first girl into the teams, and Sara was the one who was chosen... we hope as more women come through, it will start a trend through the club now."

Our Squad is supported by ambassadors, who each have their own reason for taking part in sport.

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Image caption Originally from Zimbabwe, Angeline Tshiyane moved to the UK in 2000 and works as a carer

Among them is Angeline Tshiyane, 53, from Newport, who has set up a number of groups to help encourage an active lifestyle among the region's black, minority and ethnic (BME) communities.

She launched her own weekly swimming sessions for children and adults from BME backgrounds, as well as the country's first female only BME walking group.

"More women need to recognise the benefits of taking part in sport," she said. "Not only is it great for your health, but it's a great way to make friendships and raise your confidence."

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Image caption Teirw'r Taf team members Sara Wheldon, Angharad Roche and Angharad Wyn Jones

Angharad Sian Roche, 34, is a softball player who set up Wales' first Welsh-language team, Teirw'r Taf, which competes in the Cardiff Softball League.

Ms Roche said friendship was the driving force behind the team's success.

"You have an instant common interest and everybody taking part wants every member of the team to enjoy themselves," she said, adding it was also good for "burning a few calories".

Image copyright Sport Wales
Image caption Caroline Matthews won over 120 caps in wheelchair basketball

Despite being told by doctors at 26 she would never run or jump again due to osteoarthritis, basketball player Caroline Matthews went on to represent Team GB at two Paralympic Games and then took up the wheelchair version of the sport.

Ms Matthews, from Sully, Vale of Glamorgan, now coaches her own wheelchair basketball squad, Archers Wheelchair Basketball Club.

Image copyright Mike Dean (Eye Imagery)
Image caption Emily Roberts is a black belt in karate

Emily Roberts, 16, from Llandudno, Conwy county, suffered with low self-esteem as a result of years of bullying at school, before taking up karate aged 10 to build her confidence.

Emily credits karate with helping her "break down the barriers she put up when she was bullied" and helping her to make friends.

Image copyright Sport Wales
Image caption Stephanie Howarth refers to the Tiger Bay Brawlers as her "second family"

Skater Stephanie Howarth, 30, has represented Cardiff's Tiger Bay Brawlers at UK, European and American roller derby tournaments after taking up the sport five years ago following a trip to watch a game.

"Seeing women involved in a contact sport, and witnessing the level of skill instantly made an impression on me," she said.

Image copyright Sport Wales
Image caption Jin Osborne was diagnosed with granulomatosis with polyangiitis (GPA) disease in 2015

Jin Osborne says her involvement in sport to saved her life after she was diagnosed with a rare blood disease.

The 34-year-old fitness instructor from Penarth, Vale of Glamorgan is committed to helping women of all shapes and sizes to get active for the right reasons.

"It's vital to stay physically active because your body needs it and depends on it. I found this out in the worst way," Ms Osborne said.

She added: "Attitudes to sport should be more about its health benefits and the fun and friendships that exercise brings as opposed to what it does to our physical appearance."

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