British Cycling has revealed that the number of trained female coaches in the sport has grown by 70% since the organisation launched its women’s strategy in 2013.
The ambitious strategy set out a number of aims, one of which was to ensure that, by 2020, more women were involved in the running of the sport. Just three years on, these new figures show that this vision is already well on the way to being turned into a reality.
The number of trained female coaches now stands at over 1,100, with almost half of that total number having qualified within the last three years. In order to ensure this momentum continues, British Cycling recently launched its ‘Ignite Your Coaching’ programme, designed to establish solid support networks – working collaboratively with experienced mentors – in order to encourage more women into coaching.
Helen Hiley, senior coaching and education officer at British Cycling, said: “These coaching figures are extremely encouraging, and demonstrate very clearly the tremendous progress which is being made in getting more women into our sport. We know that females generally are still under-represented in cycling, but we are now building real momentum to effect sustainable change.
“The other great news is that we are also seeing increased female participation in our coaching sessions: since 2013, we have seen a 17% growth in the number of women taking part in our female-only development sessions.
“The Ignite Your Coaching project will help to build on this success. The scheme has got underway in four pilot regions, and the vision is for the network to grow and sustain itself nationally to share knowledge and create opportunities for new and existing female coaches.”
Some of the project’s coaches, along with women working within Women Ahead – an organisation which focuses on the development of leaders in sport and business and have provided mentor training to the Ignite Your Coaching programme – are also working towards becoming Breeze champions, further boosting British Cycling’s incredibly successful Breeze programme.
The programme has given more women the chance to get into the sport on a voluntary basis – there are now over 1,900 trained Breeze champions, leading women-only rides throughout the country. That figure equates to a 145% increase on the number of Breeze champions trained since 2013.
Elsewhere, the number of female mountain bike leaders has grown from 45 in 2013 to the current figure of over 250 and the number of female ride leaders has grown by 135% – from 128 in 2013 to over 300 now. Meanwhile, over the past three years, over 180 females have trained as officials – conducting roles which ensure that the cycling events are safe and conducted in a fair manner.
Jill Puttnam, British Cycling’s national operations manager, added: “When we launched our women’s strategy, we outlined three main ambitions in terms of growing the female workforce. These figures clearly demonstrate that we are hitting the first two of those objectives: to recruit a network of female volunteers and to grow the number of opportunities for women to become coaches, volunteers, leaders, officials and tutors.
“I’m also delighted that the third of those aims – to establish a National Youth Forum to ensure that the voice of young female and male cycling enthusiasts is listened to – is also thriving with a strong female membership. Currently, nine of the twelve representatives are female.
“Encouraging more women and girls into cycling is vital for the future of our sport, and we are committed to continuing this fantastic momentum in the months and years to come.”