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Adams takes jab at enjoyment gap in sport

28th February 2023

Double Olympic champion Nicola says making sport and physical activity fun is key to getting more women active.

Boxing legend Nicola Adams says sport and physical activity providers must KO the enjoyment gap to encourage more women and girls to play sport and take part in physical activity.

Adams, the first female boxer to become a double Olympic gold medallist and This Girl Can supporter, says she can understand why some women are put off and there’s a lot people involved in sport can do to change that.

The Enjoyment Gap

“I was called all kinds of names as a female boxer and even remember being regularly told to take up another sport or a different career,” she said. “It’s no wonder there’s such a significant enjoyment gap in the number of women enjoying exercise, compared with men.

“These days, sport and fitness remain an integral part of my routine. I still train most days because it helps me feel good in myself and destress – and I’m a big advocate of encouraging women and girls to make sure they get active too, in whatever way works for them.

“There are sadly still so many barriers women and girls come up against – but at the same time there are lots of organisations out there doing great work to support women them.

“Coach Alwyn Belcher, who is now 85 but still going strong training boxers, was so important when I was starting out in boxing. Individuals and groups who are committed to helping women and girls overcome the challenges they face have a huge impact in boosting their self-confidence, supporting mental health and getting them on the path to achieving great things.”

Nicola Adams

Nicola was speaking at a launch event at Westfield shopping centre in east London for This Girl Can With You – the next phase of our campaign that will see us work with more partners than ever before to create environments women can enjoy taking part in.  

‘This Girl Can With You’ will see us support organisations to develop solutions in response to four action areas.

Activities for women must be:

  • social (help women feel part of a community)
  • suitable (meet women’s needs)
  • self-affirming (help women feel confident)
  • safe (women must feel physically and emotionally safe when taking part).

As part of the launch, we’ve also produced four new films showcasing inspiring groups and organisations working to close the gap: Black Girls Do Run UK, Goal Diggers FC, Muslim Girls Fence, and Welcome Gym.

Tasha Thompson, the founder of Black Girls Do Run, said it was vital to create positive environments for women to exercise in.   

“I founded Black Girls Do Run to create a space for women like me to come together, because it didn’t exist before,” she said. “We needed a safe and self-affirming space to come together, to feel connected, to feel confident and empowered that running is a space for Black women too.

“But if we didn’t enjoy running together, the group wouldn’t work as well as it does. The best activity to participate in is the one you enjoy. If you enjoy it, you are most likely to stick with it and make it part of your routine. 

“If you can make it social, and meet others to enjoy an activity with you, you will share that joy with a community which is very, very rewarding - and can motivate you to get active on the days you otherwise wouldn’t.”