Monday 18th December 2017

Girl Power and Participation in Tayside, Fife and Grampian

Here’s a semester one celebration of women’s sport across Tayside, Fife and Grampian.

At Abertay University, 80% of this year’s Elite Athlete Development Programme are females. Perth College UHI have a new women’s football team and Robert Gordon University’s female participation is soaring.

“At Abertay University, 80% of this year’s Elite Athlete Development Programme are females. The university are also celebrating a number of elite sporting performances such as Katie Robertson and Cameron Golden, who have both been called up to the senior GB Hockey teams.”

If the game is to increase female sporting prowess then Abertay university is setting an impressive precedent with female athletes making up over 80% of their performance programme. Having dedicated role models showing what is possible in sport, the hopes are to create a recreational activity programme providing opportunities for everyone at Abertay to get active throughout semester 2.

And it’s not just happening at Abertay University. Statistics from last year highlight that across the network, Scottish institutions often have a higher number of females participating in club sport than males. Already making waves are Perth College UHI ‘s newly established women’s football team, who recently travelled up to Inverness to play against Moray College UHI, coming away with a resounding victory. Both teams put in an energetic and determined performance.

Yet competition and sport itself are but small features in the bigger picture of why students want to get involved. Fern, one of the students who founded and runs the team, enthused that, “Football is a really nice sport to get into because of the team. No matter where you are, you have the team around you. We are really supportive of all the girls and everyone is welcome. Although it gets competitive at some points there is room for anyone who just looking for a kick about without competition. Our team has a great balance of being competitive in matches but having fun and relaxed training. For any student interested, we train indoors on a Wednesday 5-6pm at the Academy of Sport and Wellbeing, Perth College UHI.”

Meanwhile further north in Grampian, Robert Gordon University offers sport to suit everyone. The competitive women’s rugby team, founded in 2015, went on to win division two during the 16/17 season, thus gaining promotion to the BUCS Scottish 1A league. This year, although the step up in level is proving challenging, the club is still growing with well over 30 members.

Then in netball, a very successful partnership between the RGU netball club and Netball Scotland means more and more females are physically active and engaged in sport. The roll out of Bounce Back to Netball recreational sessions this year has provided students with the opportunity to participate in a fun and social environment. As a result, female netball participation at RGU has soared from fifty-four participants last year to seventy-one so far this year.

In addition to competitive team opportunities, RGU Student Union ran a This RGU Girl Can week in conjunction with BUCS. RGU’s President of Sport and Physical activity, Eilidh Paterson organised a weeks’ worth of events held around the University and within RGU Sport including a Feminism 101 talk with NUS Scotland, Krav Maga self-defence class, gym classes and online ‘at home’ and ‘equipment’ free circuits. Luckily enough RGU have a great facility within the campus and therefore ran the events with no charge for all students and staff. This ultimately made the event more accessible and inclusive.

Eilidh has said, ‘One thing that being in this role has taught me is that no one’s experience in University is the same. So if I can do anything to make Sport and Physical Activity more accessible and relatable for those who do not naturally feel that is the case, I will do.” It’s clear to see, RGU are shining bright in the promotion, organisation and development of female sport and physical activity.

From the prominence of women rising up the performance programme ranks of Abertay, to brand new teams and brand new participants across institutions, with grit and grace, more and more females are leading, influencing, volunteering, playing and developing not only sport for performance but sport for everyone. The willingness of those involved in student sport to constantly challenge and innovate to cater for students sends an overwhelming message that participation and the benefits to holistic health and wellbeing matter. Thus, with the festive holidays fast approaching, it is only appropriate to end with some cheers and thanks to everyone who makes sport happen and to 2018, to next semester and a whole lot more participation!