Inspiring Girls Into SportLouise Minchin of BBC Breakfast welcomed some 100 Hampshire school girls to the Ageas Bowl on Wednesday 25 November, to learn from a group of Hampshire-based women with successful careers in the sports industry.

Hampshire County Council’s Executive Member for Culture, Recreation and Countryside, Councillor Andrew Gibson, whose remit includes promoting participation in sport, said:

“Since the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games, the sports industry in this country has thrived, offering opportunities in a wide range of inspirational careers, and the chance to be a part of something that improves people’s health and wellbeing, and brings communities together.

“Women have not traditionally been well represented in the wider sports industry, and while there is still some way to go to close the gap, this event is designed to help inspire the next generation of career women to aim high, by offering insight into real career paths, and highlighting how some of today’s successful career women have overcome the barriers they faced.

“The event has also demonstrated that you don’t need to be a world-class athlete to have a rewarding and a successful career in the world of sport – and the pupils at this event have enjoyed a fabulous opportunity to learn about careers they knew little about, or are even discovering for the first time.”

The ‘Inspiring Girls Into Sport’ conference was designed to showcase a whole new field of career aspirations for young women, as part of the Inspiring Women campaign by educational charity Education and Employers. It was organised by Hampshire County Council as part of its London 2012 legacy activities and its Hampshire Futures Service, which supports young people to participate in education, training and employment.

Television presenter Louise Minchin and Olympic Gold Medallist Dani King were joined by professionals from the sports industry such as a former GB Olympic Team physiotherapist, the Regional Manager of England Athletics, a physiologist, a diving coach, a marketing and sales manager, and a PR director among others.

These professional guests, drawn from organisations such as Physical PR, Active Nation, Eastleigh College and Gosport Marine Scene, were invited to share their stories and inspiration with individual school pupils through a ‘speed dating’ Q&A round table session.

The event included a variety of round table discussions and a video from a guest speaker, to engage participants with the sports industry.

Around 100 girls from year 8 attended, coming from schools across Hampshire including:

Park Community School, Havant

Portchester School, Fareham

Hounsdown School, New Forest

Purbrook Park School, Havant

Hamble College, Eastleigh

Redbridge Community School, Southampton

Kings School, Winchester

The Mountbatten School, Test Valley

Henry Cort, Fareham

Toynbee School, Eastleigh

Television news presenter Louise Minchin, who has recently competed as a member of the 2015 Great Britain Age-Group Triathlon Team, said:

“I love sport but I didn’t realise it was something I could get into until quite late on. Competing in Team GB in my age group in Chicago, in the World Triathlon Championships, has really inspired me to take part in sport – but I feel it’s a shame I came to it so late, and would encourage girls to seize the opportunity to get involved as early as they can.

“It’s really important that girls realise there’s a myriad roles for rewarding careers in the sports industry, and not just as athletes. In my industry there are lots of sports related roles – whether it’s directing a sports programme, working on cameras or sound at sporting events, or presenting the sports news, there are lots of ways to get involved. If you enjoy sport, what better way is there to work, than doing something you love?”

Speaking about the event, Olympic gold medal-winning cyclist, Dani King, said: “I never had this sort of opportunity to learn about careers in sports, and I think it’s great that these girls have this chance to talk to people in the sports industry. Hopefully it will inspire the next generation of sports professionals!”

Find the hashtag #inspiringgirls on Twitter to see more coverage of the event.

Polly has almost 20 years in the media industry. As Editor of Andover and Villages, she strives to bring the latest and greatest news with a minutes notice. Polly can be contacted via editor@andoverandvillages.co.uk or alternatively called at