Bury beat competition from towns across England to secure the £1.8m of National Lottery funding from Sport England, to test what works in changing the sporting habits of women and girls.
Though there has been an increase in females playing sport, men are still more active than women. As the pilot develops, Sport England hopes the lessons learnt in Bury will be rolled out across the country.
Sport Secretary Maria Miller joined England netball vice-captain Sara Bayman, ex player Tracey Neville and Sport England Chief Executive Jennie Price in one of the town’s parks, where 100 local women tried activities such as outdoor gym sessions, basketball and Zumba.
Mrs Miller said: “Last year’s Olympic and Paralympic Games were a triumph for women’s sport, showcasing positive role models such as Jess Ennis and Ellie Simmonds. It is vital that we build on that success, and get more girls and women playing sport.
“We are making good progress: more than half a million more women are playing sport in the last year; and our broadcasters are responding to pressure to increase coverage of women’s sport. But we want to do more. This pilot project in Bury, backed by £1.8 million of public money, will help us test rigorously what works in changing the sporting habits of women and girls, and help us close the sports gender gap.”
The sports on offer in Bury will evolve, based on feedback from local women and girls, but will fall into four broad areas:
- Well-known sports offered in different forms or settings, such as cardio tennis or school-gate rounders, which offers mums on the school run a chance to get active
- Outdoor fitness such as boot camps in parks or group runs
- Dance and fitness sessions such as Zumba or aerobics
- Programmes to encourage older women to get involved, such as Pilates.