Project 51: Making girls more confident and active

Project 51, funded by Comic Relief and delivered by Sported and Women in Sport, aimed to help girls in the most socially deprived areas of the UK fulfil their potential and use sport to overcome the impact of negative gender stereotypes. This article reviews its findings.

Project 51 aims to tackle stereotypes at the grassroots by helping community groups to improve their knowledge and understanding of how to engage girls and young women, aged 11 to 18, in sport and physical activity.

As part of the project, between October 2017 and December 2019 Sported and Women in Sport worked with 30 community groups across the country, reaching over 600 girls and young women.

The groups received interactive workshops sharing Women in Sport’s research and insight into the values and motivations that guide women and girls’ decision-making. Sported also provided volunteer support for six months to help clubs embed the insight into their day-to-day activities and develop a business plan that focused on improving female engagement and inclusion.

In addition to this, a core group of girls from participating groups received coaching and support from Women in Sport to act as ‘influencers’ in encouraging friends and peers to become more active. The successfully selected seven girls met a number of times over the last year to share their views and discuss how they can represent the voice of girls who are missing out on the lifelong benefits of sport in the UK, and campaign for the changes they want to see.

The final Impact Report showcasing the success of Project 51 is available to read here.

Key achievements:

     - 90% of the girls from the groups that took part in the project said that they enjoyed sport more, felt fitter and healthier and felt that they had more opportunities to be successful than they had previously realised.

     - 86% said they felt more confident trying new things.

     - 59% said they were doing better at school.

     - 80% of group leaders said they and their teams had a better understanding of how to engage girls and that they had made changes as a result of being involved in the project.

     - 80% said they were more confident in using sports sessions to challenge gender stereotypes and use positive role models.

One Sported member said: “We feel that Project51 has given us the encouragement and drive to have sessions designed for, and by, girls in an environment where they are happy and comfortable.”

A P51 Young Influencer commented: “I can now talk openly with people. Before if people had asked me to sit on a stage and talk in front of people I’d have said no chance! Now, nothing fazes me.”

For more information about the project, email

Find out more about Sported and Women in Sport on the ConnectSport directory. To add your organisation for free, contact