National Lottery funding will give Essex women a sporting hand

A NEW project that will get women in Essex playing sport was unveiled this week after Sport England awarded it �203,172 of National Lottery funding.

Women’s Sporting Champions will see women’s sports groups set up in 70 of the most disadvantaged areas of Essex over the next three years.

Nearly 2000 women are set to benefit from the groups, which will organise sports sessions and appoint a ‘champion’ to organise and lead them.

Each group will be given a grant to support the activity and training bursaries will be available so that members can become coaches and continue to inspire more women to play sport.

The project is one of 20 being funded by Sport England to boost women’s participation in sport, especially those who care for children or who live in disadvantaged communities because they face some of the biggest barriers to participation.

Women’s Sporting Champions is being delivered by sportessex, the County Sports Partnership for Essex.

Director Angela Littlewood said: “This project is aimed at women in existing community organisations in Essex because we believe that dealing with women’s barriers to participation is key.

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“By basing sporting activities within an already existing peer group, we hope to reduce the impact of confidence issues, have a ready made group of friends for the participant to take part with, and have a Champion in place who is able to provide emotional support and encouragement”.

Jennie Price, Sport England Chief Executive, said: “For many women with children or those managing a tight budget, sport – and time to themselves - can slip down the list of priorities.

“The projects we’re funding today have asked local women what is preventing them from getting involved and what sports interest them, before coming up with an offer that is appealing and accessible.”

Last month (Dec 2010), Sport England figures revealed the size of the gender gap in sport.

At present, one in eight (2.761 million) women regularly play sport in England.

Whilst this has increased significantly in the past five years, it still trails behind men’s participation, with one in five (4.176 million) taking part.

Sport England figures also show that women from disadvantaged communities play even less sport, with fewer than one in 10 women taking part.