The Scottish Government appreciates the importance of sport and physical activity for women and girls and the positive impact that it has on their physical and mental health. As we look to rebuild sport in Scotland, we will have to support all women and girls to return safely to sport.
The Scottish Government is committed to working with sportscotland and the Scottish governing bodies of sport to rebuild membership and participation levels, following the negative impacts of the pandemic. To enable women and girls to undertake supported group exercise outdoors, we recently announced that, from 12 March, organised outdoor group non-contact sport and physical activity can resume. Organised outdoor contact sport for boys and girls under 12 can resume from the same date, subject to sport-specific guidance.
I welcome the action that the Scottish Government has taken to break down the barriers that many women and girls face in accessing organised sport. I believe that it is important that women and girls are well represented in the sporting community of Scotland.
What action is the Scottish Government taking at a local level, particularly in schools, to encourage girls to participate in sports at a younger age? We know that teenage girls, in particular, are increasingly likely to drop their participation in organised sport.
In the school environment, the active schools programme will remain a central pillar of our efforts to get young people to participate in sport. We have more than 400 active schools staff across the 32 local authorities. Prior to the pandemic, in a single year, more than 300,000 young people made a combined 7.3 million visits to active schools sport and activity sessions before school, at lunch time and after school. That participation was supported by 21,000 volunteers.
For us to get back to and surpass those levels, it will be vital that we work with and listen to young people in order to rebuild their enthusiasm for sport. There are 150 registered secondary schools in the young ambassador programme, and sportscotland will target those schools and support the young ambassadors to promote participation in sport in their schools.
It is important that we raise the profile of women in sport. We have some fantastic role models, and it is important to highlight that. We seem to do particularly well when it comes to sports such as football and netball. We all have a role to play in talking about the sports at which women excel and in making the most of the positive role models that we have.