Kelly urges girls to talk up sport

Five girls from Claydon High School will be returning back to school with the words of Dame Kelly Holmes ringing in their ears.

By Stuart Watson

Five girls from Claydon High School will be returning back to school today with the words of Dame Kelly Holmes ringing in their ears.

The double Olympic gold medallist is currently on a mission to get more girls involved in sport through her role as National School Sport Champion for the Youth Sport Trust.

In a new scheme called GirlsActive, Holmes has just finished touring a number of venues around the country where she has been speaking to girls about the barriers they feel are stopping them, or their peers, participating in PE.

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Last Thursday, the final leg of the tour took Holmes to the eastern region where, at the PGL Centre in Lincolnshire's Caythorpe Court, the 2004 BBC Sports Personality of the Year was able to meet over 100 girls selected from 25 different school sport partnerships.

These school sport partnerships were selected after showing a particularly low participation rate in sports for girls between the age of 13 and 16 years-old.

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Holmes said: “Re-engaging girls with sport is a big task. Recent statistics have shown that 40% of teenage girls are dropping out of sport by the age of 18.

“Speaking to the girls there seems to be a number of issues as to why this is. Some lack confidence and don't want to do sport in front of other people because they are embarrassed.

“A lot of girls are very body conscious and are worried about what they look like when doing sport.

“Simple things can be addressed such as making changing rooms more private and user friendly. If the girls know they have hair driers to use after PE that might be one less thing that would stop them participating.

“Another issue is making sure there is a variety of sports on offer for girls to try. While some girls may not want to participate in mainstream sports, things like street dance or martial arts might appeal.

“I tried all different sports when I was younger and eventually I found athletics.

“What I am trying to do is give these girls that I have seen a voice. I want them to go back to their schools and discuss with their teachers what could be changed.

“The scheme has been running for two years now and I have seen some absolutely amazing schools in terms of what is on offer.

“There is always more than can be done though and the aim is, now that we have done these road shows, to make sure that these ideas become implemented and are sustainable.”

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