Sports Minister Carál Ní Chuilín has officially opened a seminar which aims to raise the profile of women in sports and encourage greater participation.
The Female Sports Forum seminar took place at the Girdwood Community Hub in Belfast. The event explored areas such as leadership, role models, the media and research.
The Minister said: “The aim of the Female Sports Forum is to raise awareness and increase opportunities for women and girls within sports. Encouraging participation has been one of my key aims as Sports Minister, especially among those who might otherwise be excluded, such as women and girls, who are under-represented in many of our sporting fields.
“I commend the invaluable work that people involved with the Female Sports Forum are doing to achieve this in their communities at grassroots level. You are helping to change the sporting landscape, and touching countless lives as a result. Yet there is still more to do.
“The profile of women’s sport is rising all the time, with opportunities to compete at a broad spectrum of events increasing at all levels. There is no limit to what you can achieve with dedication and hard work. Hopefully this seminar will inspire more girls and women to believe and achieve their goals.”
The Female Sports Forum which is comprised of members from Ulster Ladies Gaelic, Ulster Hockey, Ulster Rugby, Ulster Camogie, the Irish Football Association, Sport NI, Ulster University and the NI Sports Forum is committed to ensuring all females are given the opportunity to take part in sport and physical activity. It aims to raise the profile of female sport, empowering people to make the choice to be more active. It also campaigns for females to be accorded their rightful place in the sporting world alongside their male counterparts.
The seminar is supported by the Executive’s Together: Building a United Community strategy; DCAL is delivering the cross community youth sports programme element of the strategy.
The Minister added: “Sport is a very powerful tool in this regard. It boosts fitness, both physical and mental. It encourages teamwork and discipline. It is an outlet for creativity and good for bodies and minds. And, crucially, it has the power to unite, and bring people together in camaraderie and competition.
“Sport breaks down barriers and promotes equality, targets poverty and tackles social exclusion through participation.”
The seminar also saw the launch of the ‘Women and Girls: Active, Fit and Sporty’ pledge which can be found on www.nisf.net. The initiative hopes to gain the support of a range of organisations, including district councils, governing bodies of sport, sports clubs and community groups, to encourage female participation in sport and physical activity.