Watch Siham Ali’s report for ITV News London (@si_ali1)
Words by ITV News Journalist Siham Ali @si_ali1
The number of young women taking up skateboarding has leapt by 800% in the last five years according to new statistics from the Duke of Edinburgh’s Award (DofE).
In 2017 only 37 young women and girls aged 14-24 registered skateboarding as their chosen DofE activity, but this now stands at 353.
The sharp increase shows a new wave of interest from young women in a historically male-dominated sport at both grassroots and elite levels.
‘I was really intimidated because there weren’t that many female faces'
Tilly Osborne, 15, and Josie Fairclough, 15 from south west London felt intimidated and disheartened when they first entered a skate park.
“I remember feeling really intimidated because I couldn’t see any female faces – it was quite scary at the time,” Tilly recounts.
“Skateparks are very male-dominated, even today, so as you can imagine when I first started I felt discouraged,” Josie echoes.
“Seeing them cruising around really made me want to get involved!” Not letting intimidation keep her away, Tilly threw herself into skateboarding six years ago after seeing others doing tricks.
“Seeing them cruising by really made me want to get involved!”, she said.
She has now achieved both her DofE Bronze and Silver in skateboarding.
Josie’s father introduced her to the sport when she was just six years old – and she hasn’t looked back since.
‘When you see the women on TV playing sport and doing their own thing it helps to back up that can do mindset’
Tilly and Josie acknowledged the positive influence of skateboarders like Sky Brown – the youngest athlete selected to represent Team Great Britain at the 2020 Summer Olympics.
“You can always have a mindset in yourself like ‘I can do this’ and not care what anyone else thinks.
“But when you see that change, and you see the women like Sky on TV playing sport, doing their own thing it helps to back up that mindset,” says Tilly.
“Seeing Sky Brown compete, and even watching her TikToks outlining how she started out in skateboarding shows that we are taking steps in the right direction in encouraging skateboarding as a sport that can take you places”, she adds.
By age 17 to 18, just three in 10 girls would describe themselves as ‘sporty’, compared with six in 10 boys according to a study by Women in Sport.
That was said to be down to self-belief and body image concerns.
Women in Sport found that young girls' engagement dipped once subjects like P.E were no longer compulsory.
Now with activities like skateboarding becoming more popular among young women, the hope is that the numbers continue to climb - not just in skateboarding but across the board.
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