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Helen Grant: Give women more options in sport

SPORTING OPTIONS: Helen Grant (PA)

WOMEN SHOULD have a greater say in what sports they play if the disparity between the genders is to narrow, sports minister Helen Grant has said.

The Conservative MP wants to see more girls and women get involved in sports and claimed a “behavioural change” is required to improve participation rates.

Speaking to the Telegraph, Grant said: “I think we ultimately need a behavioural change.

“I think we need to get to the point where women's sport is looked on and regarded as equal to the men's game. When we get to that point, that's when we get the balanced coverage.”

About 1.8 million more men than women play sport once a week, according to the BBC.

Grant, who is MP for Maidstone and The Weald in Kent, added: “We really need to take a step back and actually ask women what they want and give it to them.

“It's having a good spread on offer. For example, some girls may well not like doing very traditional hockey, tennis or athletics, others might, so for those who don't want to, how about considering maybe gym, ballet, cheerleading?

“It's not just schools, it's clubs, it's being innovative. Actually looking at our women and our girls and asking, 'What do they want?’”

On the subject of women being turned off from playing sport out of fear of feeling unfeminine, Grant said there are activities in which they can look “radiant”.

She said: “There are some wonderful sports which you can do and perform to a very high level, and I think those participating look absolutely radiant and very feminine, such as ballet, gymnastics, cheerleading and even rollerskating.”

Her comments attracted criticism from Labour, with MP Angela Eagle branding her comments as “lazy stereotypes”.

The Labour politician added: “She's an equality minister, she's the sports minister, and she really should be championing women getting involved in sports, not repeating lazy stereotypes about women in sports feeling unfeminine.”

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