MORE support to get women and girls into sport and help them to stay involved in sport is being called for.
South Scotland SNP MSP Emma Harper made the case in a Scottish Parliament debate, for more targeted support for females to take part in sport and physical activity.
And she noted that, by the age of 14, girls are dropping out of sport two times faster than boys of the same age.
The debate focussed on a report from the Parliament’s Sport committee, of which Ms Harper is a member, and which pointed to many barriers which face women and girls when participating in sport and physical activity.
In addition, the MSP highlighted the barriers specific to Dumfries and Galloway which included: a lack of buses and appropriate public transport to get girls and women to and from sporting clubs and venues, the cost associated with club membership and sporting equipment, as well as the need to address male dominance in sporting clubs.
As part of the committee inquiry process, Ms Harper wrote to 162 sporting clubs, including those in Dumfries and Galloway, and visited Wallace Hall Academy to speak directly with six very inspiring young women involved in sport locally.
During the debate, she took this feedback directly to the Minister and highlighted potential solutions to addressing the many barriers facing girls and women when participating in sport.
Commenting, Emma Harper said: “Being physically active is one of the best things we can do for our mental health. Sport and physical activity boosts self-confidence and self-esteem, it allows us to learn skills, socialise and most importantly to have fun.
“However, the Sport Committee inquiry has highlighted that girls and women, in particular, face significant barriers to taking part in sport and it is vital that we see a change to address these so that women are welcomed across the multitude of various types of sport and so that we start to breakdown the barriers which are holding girls and women back from sport.
“During the debate, I highlighted what women and sports clubs across our region reported were the barriers and many of these relate to the rurality of our region. A lack of buses and appropriate public transport to and from sporting clubs and venues, the cost associated with club membership and sporting equipment, as well as the need to address male domination in sporting clubs were all reported to me as being barriers to girls and women’s participation.
“To address these barriers, we need local authorities, like D&G Council, SportScotland, Government and the third sector to work together to bring about real and meaningful change. However, specifically, we also need men to change attitudes and to be supported to help women and girls join clubs and teams and to rid sport of male dominance. “
She welcomed a commitment from The Scottish Government to taking the committee’s recommendations forward and pledged to keep on the pressure.