When I became Minister for Sport last October, one of the many challenges I identified that I want to address was trying to increase the number of women in sport. Nationwide there are currently 1.7 million fewer women participating in sport than men and if we want to get more people active, closing that gender gap will be key to this ambition.
Sport has – and continues to – play a big part in my life. Growing up, I was involved in many sports, including tennis, county level hockey and judo at a regional level.
As well as helping you stay fit, sport is a brilliant way to meet new people and develop skills you can use in many other walks of life.
Shortly after my appointment, I heard about UK Sport’s latest talent ID scheme, Girls4Gold, which is a nationwide search for talented female athletes with the potential to compete for Great Britain in a sport they may never have even tried before.
With a generation of people inspired by London 2012, there has never been a better time to encourage talented young women to achieve their full potential and schemes like Girls4Gold are capitalising on that enthusiasm as we look forward to Sochi 2014 and further ahead to Rio 2016, Pyeongchang 2018 and Tokyo 2020.
By increasing the number of female athletes getting involved in sport we can in turn increase the number of role models for other younger potential athletes and coaches. Inspiring women such as Sarah Stevenson, who has made the switch from taekwondo athlete and Olympic medallist to coach, is a perfect example of the way women can become strong role models within sport.
Likewise, London 2012 rowing gold medallist Helen Glover, was recruited to the sport in 2007 by a previous UK Sport campaign - Sporting Giants. Five years later, Helen is inspiring young athletes across the country to get into sport and mirror her fantastic achievements.
I would urge any young female athletes with sporting potential and the drive to reach the top, to sign-up for Girls4Gold and see if you could become an Olympian in the future.
Sign-up for Girls4Gold >