In Brief

UK sports minister vows to increase girls and women participation levels

Mims Davies says the government must tackle the ‘inactivity of our youngsters’

The United Kingdom’s minister for sport Mims Davies has revealed that the government is aiming to increase sports participation among children and in particular young girls.

According to Sport England’s Active Lives survey published in December 2018 just 17.5% of children aged five to 16 are meeting the recommended 60 minutes of activity each day. And in 2017 the Youth Sports Trust reported that less than 10% of females up the age of 18 were meeting the recommendation.

Speaking to The Daily Telegraph as part of the paper’s new Women’s Sport manifesto, the Conservative MP for Eastleigh said tackling low activity trends will be part of a school sport action plan.

“We are really concerned about the inactivity of our youngsters,” said Davies. “If you don’t get a sporting habit for life when you come through school, it is more difficult to come back.

“We want a balance of sports and activity, physical literacture and well-being. As a minimum schools must ensure children are physically literate. It is just as important that parents encourage kids to be active as it is to read them books or do times tables.

“As parents, we have to not only think about their safety and opportunity, but their activities. Are they doing enough? Are they getting outside in the fresh air? Go out. Get muddy. Be adventurous. Children need to learn how to run, jump, throw, catch. Those basics will allow them to thrive in broader ways.

“If we don’t sort out participation – across schools, communities, ­governing bodies and making this a government priority – we end up picking up the pieces in the Health Service anyway.”

‘Inspire women and girls to get involved’

The Telegraph reports that one major government target is for “500,000 people to be more regularly active by 2020, of which half are women”.

Davies added: “It’s absolutely right that women feel that activity is as important a part of their life as anything else. Find something you love and stick at it. Sport is a great stress reliever. You will meet friends. It helps your broader sense of well-being and that inspires other women and girls to get involved.

“Research shows if you are more fit and healthy as a woman, you are more likely to get your smear test and have mammograms done.

“The wider challenge is great, but the opportunity is fantastic. I am not in politics to make something unachievable. We are in this to turn behaviour, change the dial and allow our children to get a sporting experience that will set them for life.”

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