Active Through Football supporting women to get active in Leicester | IWD 2023
Despite being the nation’s favourite game, some communities face cultural, physical and financial barriers to playing football and getting active. Active Women in Leicester is an Active Through Football project helping to tear down these barriers by supporting local women to experience all the benefits of sport.
Active Through Football is a Sport England programme, funded by the National Lottery and delivered by the Football Foundation, which aims to engage those facing the greatest barriers to being physically active by taking a place-based approach that's tailored to the needs of local communities.
Active Women is specifically aimed at women aged 18 to 62, predominately from Somali and South Asian communities in the St Matthews and St Peters wards of Leicester. Many of these women have been on a journey with the programme, starting out with a fear of football and facing cultural barriers to getting active for most of their lives. Now, these women feel a sense of ownership over the project, with some going on to complete their coaching badges and finding employment with Leicester City in the Community - the Lead Organisation on the project.
The project started out as a group of women playing Rounders in Spinney Hill Park, set up by Rukhsana Hussain, who is now the Project Co-ordinator for Active Women and a role model for women and girls in the local area.
Rukhsana Hussain, Co-ordinator, Active Women in Leicester: “The Active Women in Leicester project started with a passion to get women active through sport. It’s so important because we haven’t had anything like this in the community already.”
“The Active Women in Leicester project started with a passion to get women active through sport. It’s so important because we haven’t had anything like this in the community already.”
Mumtaz Patel, an Active Women in Leicester participant: “Sport has been really energising for me. I never used to like sports and I never imagined playing football and now I can’t stop playing it.”
The project delivers 12 weekly sessions in six-week blocks. As well as football, Active Women offers multi-sport opportunities, coffee & exercise, and movement to music sessions. The sessions encourage the participants to get active and go a long way in providing support to help build confidence and improve mental health.
Yamin Omar, an Active Women in Leicester participant: “I’ve made lots of friends, so I feel good in my mind as well and I really look forward to coming to the sessions to meet everyone.”
For Mez, Active Women has given her a new lease of life. "I was born and brought up in India and was really sporty as a child. Since I came here 25 years ago, there wasn't much opportunity for me to go out or get involved in any activities. I was at home most of the time and never wanted to get out of bed.
"Since I started coming to these sessions, I feel really happy and it boost my confidence a lot. It helped me with my depression and these women have become my family. Now in my mind, I feel like I can do anything".
To find out more about the Active Through Football programme, click here.