Prime Minister David Cameron believes the success of Charlotte Edwards’ England Women team is playing an important role in increased female participation in sport. The Government is seeking to reduce the gap between male and female participation, with an emphasis on increasing funding for sports in primary schools.
Mr Cameron said the performances of high-profile female sporting teams and athletes, such as Jessica Ennis, were also crucial in inspiring young girls to take up sport. “It is actually when you see huge stars in the Commonwealth Games or the rugby field or beating Australia in the cricket, it is those things that can inspire generations of girls to want to participate,” Mr Cameron told Sky Sports’ Sportswoman programme.
“In terms of inspiring people, that is where role models come in and that is why the funding we give – and we generously fund sport in this country and host a lot of major sporting events – you can see that paying off. If I think back to five or 10 years ago, I think women in sport are much more prominent now with success of the England rugby team and cricket team along with the extraordinary performances in the Commonwealth and Olympic Games.”
A new professional era in women’s cricket was heralded at the start of the summer, when the England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) handed out 18 full-time deals.
Mr Cameron has been pleased with the growth in women’s sport in recent years, even though he admits there is still work to be done.
“I think there is more we need to do but let’s look at where we start from,” he said. “We have 250,000 more women taking part in sport today compared with 2010. Crucially, I think we put on long-term footing, one of the most important things of all, which is funding for school sport primary schools.”
“Because we’ll never get more people to take part in sport unless you start early and I speak as someone with three young children in primary school, two of them girls. I want them to have opportunities to participate in sport, including team sports. Putting the money into primary schools, which we have done and is working, I think will make a long-term difference.”