Four sports bodies have united to launch a new project aimed at tackling low levels of participation amongst female minority ethnic groups.
Working with 12 local Asian women in the London Borough of Redbridge, London Sport, Sporting Equals, Muslimah Sports Association and Essex FA will provide tailored and targeted support to help develop coaches better able to represent the needs and considerations of their local communities.
Findings from Sport England’s Active People Survey, published here by Sporting Equals, show that Asian and Black females have the lowest participation rates (34.3% & 33.9% respectively) in sport. Only 26.1% of Asian women take part in the recommended levels of sport and physical activity (once a week).
A spokesperson for Sports Coach UK said: “We know that women are currently under represented in the coaching workforce. This forms part of the reason why there are lower participatory rates, in physical activity, for women and girls. The female Muslim community may be further affected if, for cultural or religious reasons, they choose to only take part in physical activity if the session is solely led and attended by women.”
Redbridge faces some of the highest levels of inactivity in London, and also has a higher-than-average concentration of Asian residents, making it the ideal environment to explore the role of local community coaches in getting less active people into physical activity and sport.
Dean Nevill, London Sport’s Specialist Advisor for Workforce, said: “London’s diversity is one of its great strengths, but it also presents a challenge in understanding the different social and cultural expectations that influence people’s decisions to take part in physical activity and sport. Nationally, women and people of minority ethnic backgrounds face more barriers to being active than many of their peers, and these trends hold particularly true within particular areas of London. By working with experts from Sporting Equals, Muslimah Sports Association and Essex FA we hope that this project will really empower Asian women in Redbridge to become more active, and ultimately provide an indication of similar interventions that could be rolled out across London in the future.”
Yashmin Harun, Chair of Muslimah Sports Association (MSA), added: “MSA are extremely proud to be part of something which is so ground-breaking in the development of Women’s football. Having more Muslim women as coaches will break down barriers and make football more accessible for minority ethnic females. To see the hard work done by all the partners come to fruition is absolutely brilliant. MSA would like to thank all the partners for their support, dedication and perseverance in this project.”
Arun Kang, Chief Executive Officer at Sporting Equals, said: “Asian women are significantly under-represented in sport when it comes to participation, coaching as well as in the boardrooms. That is why Sporting Equals are a partner of this initiative. We hope that it will inspire more women and girls from the Asian communities to get involved in sport and particularly coaching in football. It will help to tackle the barrier of the lack of role models in sport.”
The coalition of organisations is also being supported by Redbridge Vision, the Football Association and the Black, Asian Coaches Association.
Cindi Chatha, Equality & Inclusion Officer, Essex FA, said: “As an organisation we are constantly working towards creating a diverse workforce that represents our county. This project highlights one of the many programmes we are delivering to engage with the wider community. The ladies on the course are not only inspiring other within their community, but are role models to the next generation of females from a BAME background. We hope that this will inspire others to actively participate within football.”