Event shows Hampshire girls that sport is not just for boys

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INSPIRATIONAL role models offered friendly advice and gave tips on how to get into sport to 100 schoolgirls at the first event of its kind.

Among the speakers was accomplished cyclist Dani King, a three-time world champion in the women’s team pursuit and gold medal Olympian.

Cllr Andrew Gibson from Hampshire County Council and Olympic cyclist Dani King with pupils from Portchester Community School'' at the Ageas Bowl

Cllr Andrew Gibson from Hampshire County Council and Olympic cyclist Dani King with pupils from Portchester Community School'' at the Ageas Bowl

Ten Hampshire schools sent pupils from Year 8 to yesterday’s Inspiring Girls into Sport event at the Ageas Bowl, near Southampton.

The girls heard speeches and got a chance to grill industry professionals in a round table event.

Dani, who is from Hamble, said: ‘The growth in women in sport since London 2012 has been amazing but we need to keep pushing it and get more girls into professional sport, whether that be in sport itself or in a different way, like coaching or management.’

She said she was honoured to be taking part in the event, which was organised by Hampshire County Council to give girls an opportunity to learn about sport-related careers.

Pupils from Park Community School, Havant, Portchester Community School, Purbrook Park School, Waterlooville, Cowplain Community School, and Henry Cort, Fareham, were among the schools that attended. Henry Cort pupils Leila Karim, Faith Williams and Xianna Williams, all aged 12, enjoyed the event.

Faith said: ‘It was really interesting to see all the different types of jobs and to find out about what they are. It has really inspired me.’

Louise Minchin, a BBC news presenter who was also in Team GB for the triathlon, presented the event and then took part in the speed-dating style question and answer session along with nine other women involved in sport.

Former GB Olympic team physiotherapist Kim Waters, the regional manager of England Athletics Chris Benning and diving coach Lindsey Fraser, and Penny Hopkins, director of The Physical PR Company, were among those speaking to the girls.

Ms Hopkins said: ‘It is a fantastic idea. I hope I have been of some help to the girls and have helped move them along the path as there are lots of opportunities in sport, but it’s about confidence and not being put off as a lot of sports are male-orientated.’

Pupils from Portchester Community School Daisy Earwicker, Lilah Mertens, and Sophie Jeffery, all 12, also said they were inspired by the day.

Sophie said: ‘It’s good because it shows you girls and women can get into sport, it’s not just for boys, and more girls can achieve like Dani.’