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Family and friends – rather than role models – are the most powerful “influencers” in getting women to take part in sport.

A new report by Women In Sport shows how women’s participation in sport is swayed by a larger number of people and “influencers” than had been previously thought.

Contrary to the initial hypothesis that successful athletes and other “role models” have the most significant impact on female participation, the report suggests that other influencers had more impact. The influencers also come from an array of areas – such as family, friends and the local community.

The report also shows that women’s influencers tend to change over time – in line with their evolving needs.

"Our research findings presented here are clear,” said Ruth Holdaway, CEO of Women in Sport.

“Role models ARE important, and they are everywhere, but they are not the only factor that sways women to play sport.”

Holdaway added that the report – funded by Sport England – outlines a new behaviour change model called the ‘Model of Influence’, which consists of six ‘sway factors’.

Women in Sport hopes the model can be used as a framework to encourage further female sporting participation, utilising the influence of each of the influence communities.

“This new model, never seen before in sport, can be used to provide a framework to encourage more women to give sport a go,” she said.

“This is a solution focused tool that can be put into practice to transform sport for the benefit of every woman and girl in the UK.”

To download the report in full, click here.

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Family and friends – rather than role models – are the most powerful “influencers” in getting women to take part in sport.
The report says role models – such as double Olympic champion Laura Trott – can encourage women to take up sport, but family and friends play a role too


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