International Women's Day: Initiative going beyond the pitch to encourage more women into sport

  • Arun Lal went along to meet Rukhsana to see how the sessions positively impact women.

An initiative that aims to get women from under privileged backgrounds in Leicester into football and sport has seen more than 300 take part so far.

They were all brought together by leader of the Leicester City Active Women programme, Rukhsana Hussain.

It aims to get women into sport, as well as improving their physical and social skills.

Rukhsana, 42, delivers 11 sessions a week and says its worth it to see the smiles on the women's faces.

Rukhsana said: "It's sort of a proud moment really, it's nice to know that we've been able to offer an opportunity to women to be able to give them a place where they feel safe and they can be themselves.

"There's a lot of things that their children have been able to do, their family members have been able to do, especially maybe the male parts in their family but actually what they were saying is they didn't have these opportunities before and they love to come and have a choice about what they want to do."

Since it launched in May last year, the programme is helping to break down that have historically around gender and sport.

Those who've taken part say it's given them a chance they never thought they would get, while also overcoming personal challenges.

Rukhsana has always been passionate about making women have equal opportunities.

She's set up her own community organisation called Outspoken, which offers a platform for people to talk about some of the things they’re not allowed to discuss in their homes or in a school or work environment because of the stigma or discrimination they may have faced in their lives.  

The mother of three never thought sport or football was for her, but running sessions like this, have shown her it can be.

Rukhsana said: "You know it wasn't something I saw myself in not a career in sport at all, driven past the stadium many times before a never really saw myself as being part of that.

"As I started to meet people from Leicester City and the community I started to see actually there is more to that stadium than just football, and I think that is what Active Women is about, there is more to this than football."

As the project nears its year anniversary, Rukhsana is hoping it will reach more women and young girls get involved in sport.