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Women’s sport still failing in UK

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Women’s sports still lack funding and media coverage, a charity has reported.

The Women’s Sport and Fitness Foundation (WSFF) announced last week that women’s sports are still largely unpopular across the UK.

This is despite the success female athletes at this year’s summer Olympics.

Currently, women’s sport only receives 5 per cent of media coverage and a dismal 0.5 per cent of commercial sponsorship.

In particular, the BBC and Channel 4 came under direct fire from an All Party Parliamentary Group meeting in Westminster last week.

WSFF chief executive Sue Tibball said, ”The BBC and also Channel Four have a public duty to broadcast for the entire community, but the BBC in particular has been trying to compete against other channels in their coverage of sports, rather than encouraging diversity and equality.”

”The BBC should be looking at their remit and broadcasting women’s sport and a broader range of sports beyond male football,” she added.

Tibballs also said that the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympics, “were the greatest Games for women ever.”

“The achievements of Jessica Ennis, Sarah Storey, Kath Grainger and so many others have taken support for women’s sport to new heights, and made 2012 a landmark year for women’s sport,” she said.

However, there is a fear that the enthusiasm that surrounded these female athletes for so many months is rapidly dissipating.

“Currently we have a media that values male achievements over females’ and a prevailing culture where girls grow up wanting to be thin rather than active and healthy. This has to change or the Olympic legacy will have failed for women,” Tibballs said.

The Foundation also argued that girls needed to be encouraged to partake in sports in and out of school.

“81 per cent of people think that the female athletes at London 2012 make better role models for young girls than other celebrities,” said Tibballs.

“This is great news. However, we need to make sure that young girls and women are given more opportunities to see their female sports heroes in action to inspire them to get active.”

Olympic gold medal-winning rower Helen Glover has also recalled her personal experiences about fighting ‘peer-pressure’ at a young age: “I was also frustrated at how much seemed available to the boys,” she told the Telegraph.

“When you get to an age when you’re in your mid-teens so many girls drop out. You get to the stage where you can’t actually make a whole hockey team.

“Boys have got rugby and football teams at mid-teen level – for boys there’s quite a strong social aspect to these sports. For girls, when they start getting into boys they start getting body conscious, and drop out of sport.”

Glover added that it was this kind of peer-pressure and under-funding that almost prevented her from partaking in sports at a competitive level.

Sports broadcaster Claire Balding also welcomed the Foundation’s critique, calling for broadcasters to show more women’s coverage, even if it was only one news item a day.

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