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Minister defends 'feminine sports' comments

Sports minister Helen Grant has said her comments about getting women into sport have been 'taken out of context'.

  1. National

Sports minister's comments 'discouraging'

Comments made by sports and equalities minister Helen Grant have been criticised by anti-sexism campaigners as "discouraging" at a time when female Olympians are leading the glory for Britain at the Sochi games.

Helen Grant. Credit: Yui Mok/PA Wire

Founder of the Everyday Sexism Project, Laura Bates, said: "It's really the wrong approach to suggest that the only way for women to get involved in sports is to be girlie and feminine."It's actually discouraging for a minister to say this.

"With our great athletes performing fantastically at the Olympics, we still see media outlets focusing on the looks and femininity, which the comments seem to do too."

Lizzy Yarnold, 25, won the country's first gold medal at the Winter Olympics in the skeleton while Jenny Jones took a bronze in snowboard slopestyle and so did the female curling team.

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Minister: Girls 'looked gorgeous and could still skate'

Speaking of a recent YMCA rollerblading event for girls aged between seven and 17 Helen Grant said:

Those girls arrived and they looked absolutely gorgeous.

They were wearing their socks pulled up, beautiful socks with sequins and their hair was done. But my goodness they could skate.

Ms Grant added that the media needs to increase its coverage of female sport and businesses also need to offer support through sponsorship.

I think we need to get to the point where women's sport is looked on and regarded as equal to the men's game. When we get to that point that's when we get the balanced coverage.

  1. National

Sports minister urges women to 'take up cheerleading'

The sports and equalities minister has said feminine sports like Zumba and cheerleading should be offered in a bid to narrow the gender gap in sport.

Helen Grant said women should be given "what they want" when it comes to sport and not forced to take part in football or swimming, adding that they can still look "absolutely radiant".

Sport and equality minister says women can still look 'absolutely radiant' while doing sports such as cheerleading. Credit: Clive Gee/PA

She made the comments to The Daily Telegraph in an interview about how to increase the number of women taking part in sport, highlighting that 1.8 million more men than women play sport regularly.

"[Women] don't have to feel unfeminine," she said."There are some wonderful sports which you can do and perform to a very high level and I think those participating look absolutely radiant and very feminine such as ballet, gymnastics, cheerleading and even roller-skating.

"We really need to take a step back and actually ask women what they want and give it to them."Whether it's a Zumba class or a game of rounders after they've dropped the kids off. That's the approach we need to take - what works for them."

A question of Sport? Helen Grant MP fails to score in our topical quiz.

We challenged new Sports Minister - and Maidstone MP - Helen Grant to answer five sporting questions. The correct answers are: Marion Bartoli, Wigan Athletic, Chris Robshaw, 1992, and Jacqueline Freney.

Mrs Grant told us "I wasn't told there was going to be a quiz on Saturday night. If I'd known I would have done some proper revision. My sports pub quiz knowledge may not be encyclopaedic but I understand the positive impact that participating in sport has on people's lives."

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