Growing your club by engaging with older girls

This is the title of a presentation given by Melissa Anderson, Valleys Gymnastics Academy at the LIKEaGIRL – Getting to the core of activity and sport held on 24th November 2015 at the University of Hertfordshire in Hatfield.

This event is organised by Women’s Sport Network, Sports Marketing Network and Herts Sport Partnership. it will focus on what causes the disconnect, avoidance and drop out amongst young girls? How can schools, clubs & NGBs overcome this at an early age?  Is it just a case of P.E. v competitive sport? Fear of being judged? Or something much deeper?

Melissa’s presentation will cover how Valleys Gymnastics Academy (‘VGA’) has achieved significant growth in the three-year period in which it has operated from a dedicated gymnastics facility. The club has an official membership in excess of 1600 (plus a weekly casual user base of over 500 individuals across Gwent schools and leisure centres). In 2014 VGA was the Welsh Gymnastics Club of the Year.  In particular, the organisation has bucked the national trend for girls’ gymnastics participation; 40% of its membership is over age 8 and approximately 20% are of secondary school age. The club works closely with local authority and school partners and has recently joined the Us Girls network to expand its provision for inactive teenage girls. This presentation will share the success that is Valleys Gymnastics Academy and identify what other providers of sport and physical activity can learn from the our journey.

Melissa Anderson is a Lecturer in Sport Development at Cardiff Metropolitan University and is heavily involved in the development of sport within the community. She is Managing Director and Head Coach of Valleys Gymnastics Academy and uses her expertise to provide mentoring to those running community-based sporting organisations.

The conference will consider that if we are serious about the wellbeing and achievement of all women and girls in later life, then we must create a culture where girls’ active participation in PE and sport is the norm. An understanding of why this disconnect occurs and how it can be avoided is essential – not just for girls in sport – but for girls throughout life.

Leading speakers on Women’s Sport (Sarah Winckless, MBE – Chair of British Olympic Athletes Commission & Danielle Sellwood – Co-founder Sportsister Magazine/Women’s Sports Trust. are joined by experienced academics (ClaireMarie Roberts, Uni. of Worcester, Women in Sport & Exercise Task Force/ Shannon Pepin Bevione, Plymouth Uni)  and sports/PE teachers from Headington Girl’s School and Sheffield High School. National Governing Bodies will have vision from Jenna Smith from Badminton England and other club/community-based presentations will be given by Melissa Anderson, Valleys Gymnastics Academy and Joanne Herbertson,  Cheshire Cricket Board, The conference will be chaired by Karen Rothery CEO at Surrey Sports Park.

A conference presenting real stories and ‘need-to-know’ support

This is not a conference packed with policy presentations – but real anecdotal information and advice to really help delegates better understand why girls do ‘Throw LIKEaGIRL’ and how they might change their thinking about the relationship between, competitive sport, fitness and PE. This event highlights best practice and provides thoughts, tools and to-dos on how to get more girls to become more active.

For further information contact

Svend Elkjaer, Sports Marketing Network, 5 Station Terrace, Boroughbridge, YO51 9BU, 01423 326 660


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