Maggie Alphonsi MBE, England’s greatest female rugby player, has joined a diverse group of leaders from sports, business and education to shape a national scheme that will encourage girls, boys, teachers and parents to get involved in female sport.
The programme, which is being developed by Women Ahead, aims to encourage girls and boys, parents, teachers, athletes and sporting bodies to increase youth engagement in female sport. It aims to increase positive perceptions of female sport in both boys and girls, which is arguably dented by the lack of media coverage of female sport.
Women Ahead’s ‘big idea’ is to create a national programme that takes boys and girls, their teachers and parents to female sporting events. It would also take athletes into schools to provide coaching and growth mindset training for the children and teachers. These sessions would create an opportunity where children can can truly connect with athletes as role models, learn about sport, and develop a true growth mindset. By engaging the adults, children are far more likely to stick to their chosen sports and be rewarded by all the social and economic benefits that will bring.
Maggie Alphonsi and Olympic medallist rower Sarah Winckless MBE attended the think tank at the Ricoh Womens Open Golf on Thursday 28 July, along with a diverse group of leaders to create a practical plan to set up the pilot scheme which is aims to pilot in some schools later this year.
Maggie Alphonsi said: “When girls get involved in sport, they learn how to succeed in life and how to deal with failure. The most important thing we can share with our children is the ability to set your mind to something and strive until you have achieved it. By getting girls and boys excited about top class female sport we set that bar high for them and can inspire them to achieve their best.”
Liz Dimmock, founder of Women Ahead said: “The importance of playing sport in creating critical life-skills, confidence, goal-setting, resilience, teamwork and positive attitudes to competition. Yet, significantly fewer girls play and engage in sport. This needs to shift. It is clear that sport creates positive mind-sets, networks and also academic success and Women Ahead is inspired and well positioned to bring together diverse minds and experiences to bring about fresh thinking and ultimately to create long-term change.”
Their discussion built on findings from a recent Women Ahead think tank which revealed that girls who don’t play sports are missing out on goal-setting and growth mindset skills necessary for success in the workplace. Fewer women have learned these skills as children and consequently fewer women are involved in top level business roles. Obesity and mental health problems are also on the rise in the UK and sport has repeatedly been shown to be an antidote to these.
Charles Cousins, Head of Youth and Sports Programmes at Women Ahead said: “It is also about developing a growth mindset – the belief that if you want to do something well you can, with determination, hard work and the support of your family, teachers and peers. We want to give children the opportunity to enjoy watching female sport and in turn develop a positive engagement with sport and all the benefits that it brings. Today we have gathered a diverse range of views, ideas, and expert opinions on how best to make this happen. Now we will sift through the evidence to shape the pilot scheme for later this year.”
Chas Moloney, marketing director, Ricoh UK & Ireland said: “As an organisation committed to positive change, Ricoh fully supports this drive to raise the profile of female sport among school children. Having been title sponsor of the Women's British Open since 2007, we know how transformative sport can be in inspiring people to work hard, commit to a goal and aim for success. By working with Women Ahead we hope to be able to instil future generations with these all-too important lessons, while driving greater gender diversity both on the sports field and in the workplace.”
Companies and sports organisations that would like to find out more about the scheme can contact Liz Dimmock at Women Ahead on 01189 406828 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Notes to Editors
1. Picture caption, Maggie Alphonsi MBE at the session. Also l-r Charles Cousins, golfer Charley Hull, and Women Ahead’s Liz Dimmock, Eira Parry, Rebecca Davies and Jane Booth.
2. Women Ahead is an award-winning social enterprise that supports the development of women in sport and business. Women Ahead designs and manages mentoring schemes, workshops and learning materials, offers leading female speakers for events, and carries out research and consultancy. www.women-ahead.org
3. See https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=msKKOO3nWbE for a two minute video about Women Ahead.
4. Fewer girls engage with sport although 75% say they want to be more active. Girls are the fastest growing demographic group of people taking up sport and yet 11-15 year-old girls are less likely to play for a school team than the boys, be a member of a sports club, or take part in any kind of sporting competition.
5. Young people’s participation in sport improves their numeracy scores by 8% on average above non-participants. Underachieving young people who take part in sport see a 29% increase in numeracy skills and a 12 to 16% rise in other transferable skills. Returns on investment in sports programmes for at-risk youth are estimated at £7.35 of social benefit for every £1 spent – through financial savings to police, the criminal justice system and the community. (Source The Culture and Sport Evidence (CASE), led by the Department for Culture Media and Sport, has studied published evidence on the varied benefits of sport.)
6. In 2014, only 0.4% of commercial sports sponsorship went to women. Female sports received just 5% of media coverage. UK sporting boards were heavily led by men, with just 22% of roles taken by women. There were six governing sports bodies with no female representation at all.
7. Ricoh is a global technology company specialising in office imaging equipment, production print solutions, document management systems and IT services. Headquartered in Tokyo, Ricoh Group operates in about 200 countries and regions. In the financial year ending March 2015, Ricoh Group had worldwide sales of 2,231 billion yen (approx. 18.5 billion USD).
The majority of the company's revenue comes from products, solutions and services that improve the interaction between people and information. Ricoh also produces award-winning digital cameras and specialized industrial products. It is known for the quality of its technology, the exceptional standard of its customer service and sustainability initiatives.
Under its corporate tagline, imagine. change. Ricoh helps companies transform the way they work and harness the collective imagination of their employees. For further information, please visit www.ricoh.co.uk
9. The Ricoh Women’s British Open is one of the golfing highlights of the sporting calendar with the 40th Championship making its tenth appearance at the iconic Woburn Golf Club but first since 1999 and for the first time on the famed Marquess course.
10. As one of only two women Major’s played outside the US, the Ricoh Women’s British Open is the most international major of the season with this year’s star-studded field boasting players from 26 different nations with more than 850 titles between them.
11. The Ricoh Women’s British Open was founded by the LGU in 1976 and has been staged in conjunction with IMG, the world’s largest sports marketing company, since 1984. The event has been co-sanctioned by the LPGA and LET since 1994 and gained Major status in 2001.
12. Ricoh are hugely committed to supporting women in sport and business. They are a founding parting to Women Ahead. This is the ninth year that Ricoh have sponsored the Women’s Open – and it a key part of their commitment to women in sport. Ricoh also sponsor ambassadors such as Joanna Konta (tennis) and Charley Hull (golf). Ricoh and Women Ahead won Sport Partnership of the Year at the recent Women’s Sports Trust Be A Game Changer Awards – in addition to Best Collaboration at the Corporate Engagement Awards.
Press enquiries to:-
1. Women Ahead: Timma Marett at email@example.com or on 01189 406828 / 07901 682219.