Manchester City Women’s Football Club (MCWFC) and the Women’s Sport and Fitness Foundation (WSFF) are launching the first stage of an innovative new partnership aimed at getting more women and girls involved in sport.
To coincide with MCWFC’s latest fixture against Liverpool Ladies yesterday, in which City won 1-0, the Club and WSFF announced the enhancement of City in the Community’s activities through learnings from WSFF’s ground-breaking programme Changing the Game, for Girls: In Action.
As part of the collaboration, WSFF will use its unique insight and knowledge of women and girls’ relationship with sport to enhance the understanding of the City in the Community coaches, who for the past three decades have worked to forge closer links between the Club and local community.
WSFF research shows that 1.9 million fewer women than men currently participate in sport and physical activity[i]and that the gender gap in participation begins as young as 8 years old[ii].
The launch also coincides with a report on Women and Sport, published last Friday by the Culture, Media and Sport Committee, in which the body expressed concern about the long-term health and social care implications of low participation rates in sport by women and girls.
The Government department called for a more imaginative approach by schools, sports governing bodies and relevant government departments to engage women in sport.
The new partnership will fuse the 30 years’ experience of WSFF in unlocking insights and applying them to increase participation in sport by women and girls and the football expertise of Manchester City and City in the Community. The two organisations will work together to help more women and girls across Manchester to access the benefits of playing and engaging with sport.
Starting with community sessions hosted at after school clubs in and around Manchester including Newall Green High School, Failsworth School and Denton Community College, City in the Community coaches will deliver sport supported by insight from WSFF’s Changing the Game, for Girls: In Action pilot programme and its landmarkUnderstanding Women’s Lives research.
Steph Houghton, City captain and newly appointed WSFF ambassador said of the launch:
“I am very excited to be involved in such an important campaign to promote the benefits of sport and fitness among women and girls.
“We really need to focus our efforts on ensuring young girls receive all the help they can get to boost their confidence and interest in getting involved in sport. With the Commonwealth Games in full swing, there’s no better time to capture the imagination of aspiring young girls.”
“I really believe that this unique partnership between the Club and the Women’s Sport and Fitness Foundation will help to do that.”
Ruth Holdaway, CEO of the Women’s Sport and Fitness Foundation added:
“The benefits of sport and physical activity are many and varied, from improving physical and mental health to developing key life and social skills, and much more in-between.
“We believe that Manchester City Women’s Football Club is a great example of a high profile sport organisation putting women and girls at the centre of their thinking and I am delighted that WSFF will be working to support the club in its work with women and girls.
“Through this partnership, we will provide a lasting impact on sport for women and girls.”
Helen Grant, Conservative MP and Minister for Sport, Tourism & Equalities also showed her support:
“I’m delighted to see Manchester City using the expertise of the Women’s Sport and Fitness Foundation to put women and girls at the heart of their participation strategy. By bringing the benefits of sport to women and girls across Manchester, they are helping to create a healthier and happier community.”
As part of the partnership MCWFC will provide WSFF with one fixture per season to assist the organisation in generating additional funds to support its aims, while the Club and WSFF will work together to seek funding for further projects to build sport participation for women and girls.
This latest announcement follows the Club’s first non-commercial shirt deal back in April which sees the WSFF logo featured on training wear, including the pre-match shirt and walk out jacket.
The Women’s Sport and Fitness Foundation was founded in 1984 and is the UK charity committed to transforming sport for the benefit of every woman and girl in the country. By drawing on its unique insights, WSFF champions the right of every woman and girl in the UK to take part in and benefit from sport.