Sport Wales has today launched the first phase of a new campaign to unite women and girls programmes and projects across Wales in celebrating, encouraging and empowering more women and girls to get active, and stay active.
Our Squad is aimed at every woman and girl in Wales, no matter fitness level, ability or activity of choice and is looking for Welsh women and girls willing to be part of a new virtual squad of ladies who will share their positive experiences of sport and bring other women and girls along with them. Our Squad comes as research shows fewer women and girls are taking part in sport or physical recreation than their male counterparts.
Currently, 576,000 women in Wales report not participating in any form of activity, while just over half (54%) of women say they’ve done at least one sporting activity in the last four weeks compared to 63% of men. Research shows a lack of confidence, fear of judgement, a perceived inability or no one to go along to something new with are common factors that prevent women and girls from getting more active.
Sarah Powell, Chief Executive of Sport Wales, said:
“There are some truly outstanding programmes and projects out there already successfully engaging women and girls – whether it’s Streetgames’ Us Girls programme, Run Wales’ social running programme or Merthyr Girls Can’s life-changing fitness programme. They are making sport and physical activity, and the many benefits that come with it, more accessible for females and it’s usually down to the people who run the projects and take the time to ensure others have a good experience.
“Together with our partners, we want to showcase these opportunities and give a platform to the ladies who have helped to break down barriers for other women and girls to enable them to try something new or get back into sport. Here in Wales we have a strong culture of coming together to achieve great things – we only have to look at our sporting achievements over the past year to see that. We wanted to harness this togetherness and put it to good use helping to change perceptions of sport and physical activity and in turn, behaviours.”
Phase one of the campaign will focus on growing a virtual squad of supportive women and girls, assisted by ambassadors from around Wales. The ambassadors each have their own reason for getting physically active – from Angharad Sian Roche who set up her own Welsh speaking softball group so she could play the game she loves in her first language, to Angeline Tshiyane, who launched her own weekly swimming sessions for females from all backgrounds after being the only black swimmer in an ‘all white’ swimming club.
Our Squad Ambassador, Jin Osborne, was inspired to become a fitness instructor after her passion for sport helped her to overcome depression in her teenage years. Since then, the 34-year-old has credited her active lifestyle for saving her life, having been diagnosed with a rare auto-immune disease which causes the walls of blood vessels to become inflamed.
Despite reaping the benefits of exercise more than the average person, Jin believes 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.
“Everyone has their issues with their weight but I feel like we put too much pressure on how we look and trying to look a certain way. Sport shouldn’t be about looking like Instagram models, it should be about being real, and having a realistic goal about your body. My aim is to inspire women not to want to look like other people but instead to want to be better, heathier and happier versions of themselves.”
The campaign will launch across Sport Wales’ social media channels from today – women and girls looking to be a part of Our Squad, to celebrate others who have helped make a difference, or become an ambassador in their area are invited to like Our Squad’s Facebook page and follow on Twitter, Snapchat and Instagram. A partner toolkit has also been developed for women and girls projects wishing to be involved. Further details can be found on the Our Squad website www.oursquad.cymru