A bumper summer of female sporting events has inspired millions of women to get back into sports – after years of fear and judgement, a study has found. Encouraged by competitions such as the FIFA Women’s World Cup, the Women’s Ashes, and Wimbledon, 59 percent of women have started training with an old sports team again.
And a poll of 2,000 females, aged 18-65, found 46 percent feel motivated to try sport after seeing the empowerment and determination showed by these professional female sporting stars.
It also emerged 31 percent of women over 45 played sports when they were younger, but dropped out as a teenager – with being “too sweaty”, and not feeling “good enough” to take part, among the top reasons.
But now, many are dusting off their boots, digging out their racquets, and getting back to action.
Sure UK, a supporter of women’s sports, commissioned the research after launching the Breaking Limits: Girls Can Football Series, which aims to provide funding and training to give young people access to sport coaches, communities, and safe spaces.
Former Lionesses goalkeeper Carly Telford, who is partnering on the campaign, said: “Too many women have missed out on years of enjoyment, fitness, and socialising, due to feeling unable to continue with team sports – and it’s about time they feel inspired to get back into the sports they enjoy without fear.
“There’s still a long way to go, and so much more that we need to do to promote women’s sport in all corners of the world.
“To normalise women succeeding on pitches, courts, and fields should be everyone’s goal, and both consumers and organisations have roles to play to make this a reality.”
The study, via OnePoll, found there is more to do, however, as 77 percent of women believe that society needs to promote female sporting role models.
And 36 percent worry about being treated differently to men if they were to participate in sports – leaving 64 percent put off trying sports altogether as a result.
But putting worries aside, the future of women in sport looks bright, with the most popular sports they’d like to be involved in named as football (37 percent), netball (21 percent), and athletics (15 percent).
A quarter voted netball as the most inclusive sport for women, followed by athletics (15 percent), and football (15 percent).
And half believe women’s football will eventually be as popular as men’s football – if not more so.
For 74 percent, playing as part of a team has worked wonders for their mental health, while 51 percent said sports has had a positive influence on their life overall.
Alice Duffill, from Sure UK&I, said: “Movement has the power to transform lives. Everyone should be able to experience all the incredible physical, mental, and social benefits movement brings – whoever you are, however you move.
“But in our increasingly unequal societies, social, economic, and physical barriers stand in the way.
“Inspiring women and girls to play sport, through promoting and raising awareness of professional athletes who look like them, is key in breaking down some of those barriers.
“That’s why we’re committed to growing women’s sports, as we know the importance of shining a light on professional women athletes to help inspire today’s and tomorrow’s girls.”
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