Wales

Sport Wales says it needs to get younger girls involved

This Mum Runs runners
Image caption Cathryn Scott is the community leader for This Mum Runs in Cardiff, which helps mothers keep active

Sport Wales "needs to invest at a younger age" to increase the number of girls and women taking part in sport, according to its chief executive.

Sarah Powell said the body needs to attract pre-school and primary school age girls so they continue when older.

The National Survey of Wales found 27% of women took part in sport three or more times a week last year, a 1% rise on the previous year.

Ms Powell called for more sports teams for women and girls to be set up.

She added parents should be "asking questions when there aren't opportunities for their daughters".

"A lot of us have those really negative feelings about sport when we were at school - having to wear the gym knickers and PE skirts, playing hockey in the rain," she said.

Confidence

Cathryn Scott is the community leader for This Mum Runs in Cardiff and organises two runs a week around Roath Park.

She said many of the women she meets were put off exercise at school, and now they are mums do not feel well catered for when it comes to sport.

"I was looking to join a running group and they all started at around 18:00 and if you have children your partner isn't home from work, you're in the middle of bed and bath routine," she explained.

The mother-of-three and freelance journalist said confidence is also a big issue, and when she started running again after a 10-year break she was embarrassed to tell others in case they thought she was "rubbish".

The National Survey of Wales in 2017/18, which interviewed more than 11,000 adults, found 29% of women would do more sport if they were less busy at work, with more than a quarter saying family commitments get in the way too.

More than half of women surveyed wanted to do more sport, with 26% saying they would participate in more activities if they were younger.

Traditional sports

Weightlifter Chloe Hood set up a female-only fitness group in Pembrokeshire because "a consultation showed a lack of groups for women," especially for the over-40s.

She now runs two classes a week at the Strength Academy Wales in Haverfordwest.

"The response has been amazing - more people are coming who wouldn't do weights but they're enjoying it," she added.

The 18-year-old, who has represented Wales, said she finds girls get pushed towards traditional female sports such as gymnastics, netball and hockey.

Image caption Sport Wales chief executive Sarah Powell called on parents to question why there was a lack of sporting opportunities for their daughters

"My experience has been 'girls can't do that, that's a male dominated sport, you can't lift a certain weight,' and girls have shown we can."

She would like to see more variety of sports on offer for women and girls of all ages.

Sport Wales' chief executive wants to build on the "fantastic momentum".

Ms Powell said "visibility is really important" to break down the stereotypes that sport is for boys - whether that is Wales midfielder Jess Fishlock winning the Women's Champions League with Lyon, or local role models at home and at school.

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