Solheim Cup star Catriona Matthew, athlete Eilish McColgan and sprinter Maria Lyle are among those who have spoken out about the health and wellbeing benefits of getting involved in sport and keeping active.
A series of events will take place over the coming seven days to shine a light on the many benefits of participating in sport and physical activity for girls and women, with a particular emphasis this year on the positive impact on physical, mental and social health.
The importance of role models in encouraging uptake is among the key messages this year.
Catriona Matthew, who captained Europe to Solheim Cup triumph over the US last month, said: “I think this is a great initiative and I absolutely endorse encouraging as many women and girls to get involved in sports as possible.
“Whether it be golf or tennis or cycling or whatever sport, I think taking part in physical activity is so effective for improving both mental and physical health. I also think it helps build confidence as well as playing a huge part in helping to build an active fun social life.
“This week is so important as it is genuinely about encouraging as many girls and women as possible to get active, whatever your level and whatever your age as well as celebrating all the great sporting achievements of our Scottish sportswomen.”
Olympian Eilish McColgan, who set a new British 10 mile record at the Great South Run last weekend, added: “I really hope this week encourages loads of women and girls to seek out the different sporting opportunities that are available to them. You don’t have to be an Olympic athlete to enjoy sport – there really is something out there for everyone!
“The friendships and relationships I’ve forged as a result of being involved in sport truly have changed my life and moulded me into the person I am today – both on and off the track.
“This last year has been super challenging for everyone with so many being isolated at home and unable to follow their normal routine. Keeping active and taking part in sport can help build confidence and the social element that sport brings is the best part about it all. I would appeal to all women and girls to get out there and give it a go! Have a great week!”
Eve Muirhead, Olympic medal-winning curler, said: “I was very lucky to grow up in a sports-oriented family and even before I started to enjoy success on the curling rink, I knew how fortunate I was to be immersed in activities that were good for both my physical health and mental wellbeing and increasingly we have come to understand the importance of this.
“Playing sport has been my life and I am honoured to have been to three Winter Olympics playing alongside some hugely inspirational team mates and having strong female role models is vital to building on the strides that have been made even in the course of my career. There is consequently a real sense of responsibility that comes with sporting success to help the next generation take advantage of the opportunities that are now greater than ever before in every sport and we must keep this momentum going!”
Sprinter Maria Lyle, who took double bronze at the recent Tokyo Paralympics, added: “Sport has opened up many doors for me.
“Not only has sport allowed me to represent my country, it has helped me gain confidence, make friends, improved my studies (time management), manage my disability, overcome hardships and feel a sense of ownership for my physical along with my mental health.”
Dr Rachel Malcolm, captain of the Scotland rugby team, added: “I’m delighted to support Scottish Women and Girls in Sport Week 2021. Over the past year, the pandemic has highlighted the importance of sport and physical activity, particularly on our mental wellbeing.
“Following the easing of restrictions, it’s been fantastic to hear stories about women and girls trying rugby for the first time. Sport has the ability to bring people together, creating a sense of community and life-long friendships in the process. I’d encourage anyone who is thinking of taking up a sport or joining a local club to give it a go!”
Jen Beattie, Scotland women’s national football team defender, said: “It has been amazing to see the growth of girls’ and women’s sport throughout my lifetime and for youngsters just starting out their sporting journey to now have female role models to look up to.
“Sport has so many benefits, both physical and mental, and it can really help you develop and grow as a person.
“Even in tough times sport can help you push through, look forward and be positive. During my breast cancer treatment last year my teammates were a tower of strength. The release of being out on the training pitch was amazing as well and helped me overcome a challenging period in my life.
“I’m excited to be part of the Active Scotland Panel discussion later in the week to tell my story and answer any questions people may have on my journey so far.”
Scottish Women and Girls in Sport week runs from Monday October 25th-31st. The week aims to showcase women and girls projects across Scotland, highlight role models and increase participation. More detail can be found via Actify