About time we jiggle things up a little more | From the Press Box with Melanie Whelan

SPOTLIGHT: Ballarat junior girls' cricket pathways, like Milo In2Cricket, and ways to keep females in sport captured the interest of Sport England chief executive Jennie Price this week. Picture: Kate Healy

SPOTLIGHT: Ballarat junior girls' cricket pathways, like Milo In2Cricket, and ways to keep females in sport captured the interest of Sport England chief executive Jennie Price this week. Picture: Kate Healy

GET ready for a real kick in the stereotype. 

Sport England’s world-famous active women campaign This Girl Can’s partnership with VicHealth this week is an incredible move and much needed in regional Victoria to wiggle and jiggle things up.

We are a city that has a well-documented need to get moving more – full stop.

So, while a lot of health and sporting campaigns can be more metropolitan focused, Sport England’s chief Jennie Price was scouting for inspiration right here in Ballarat on Thursday.

A big part of this is identifying barriers to tackle and break down in reducing the gender gap.

More than three in five Victorian women are not exercising enough. Australian teenage girls are only half as active as their male counterparts.

Analysis shows females tend to cite practical constraints in time and money but deep down, we have the same underlying feelings as English women – we do not feel good enough, or fit enough, to exercise in public.

Elite sportswomen are absolutely inspiring. But ultimately we need to see everyday women just like us getting “hot and not bothered” because those who already feel comfortable are out there doing it.

This is why checking in with regional women is as vitally important as real-life stories from the suburbs. We need to see to believe that girls just like us, can. 

When VicHealth and This Girl Can opened recruiting for a Victorian campaign, Ms Price said the expectation was to receive about a half-dozen entries. Instead, 300 women applied in the first week.

The federal government launched its #GirlsMakeYourMove campaign early last year, aiming to empower young Australian women to find an activity they enjoyed.

But it has never hit the same mark Sport England did.

The original This Girl Can viral campaign

The difference? This Girl Can takes pictures of women all shapes and sizes working out and teams these with deliberately edgy and provocative catch-cries: “I kick balls – deal with it”, “I jiggle, therefore I Am”, “Talk to the backhand” or “I play with passion, precision and pigtails”.

Fears of judgement start to melt.

Sport England, largely funded by the National Lottery, specialises in grassroots and pathways to get people more active. (The lottery also funds UK Sport, the body behind Team GB on the Olympic stage).

Ms Price was particularly interested in Ballarat’s booming programs to get and keep young girls in traditionally male-dominated sports. She took a close look at Ballarat Cricket Association’s under-13 girls competition.

But the focus is on how to build on this to keep offer more females a chance to move and the confidence to move, or change how they move, to suit their changing lifestyle and demands.

This Girl Can says it does not matter if we are a bit rubbish at sports, it was just about making a move and achieving for ourselves.

This is a message we really need to hear – even better if told to us through regional voices.

SPOTLIGHT: Sport England chief executive officer Jennie Price says regional women need to connect with other women, like them, to feel more comfortable exercising.

SPOTLIGHT: Sport England chief executive officer Jennie Price says regional women need to connect with other women, like them, to feel more comfortable exercising.

The story About time we jiggle things up a little more first appeared on The Courier.

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