University of Limerick
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‘Mother of all sport’: an evaluation of a women’s community sports programme

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posted on 2022-09-06, 14:33 authored by Tracy Mahedy
The purpose of the ‘Mother of all Sport’ programme is to investigate the effect of a physical activity programme on women in disadvantaged communities and evaluate whether this type of programme can encourage women to participate in physical activity in their local community. This research project subsequently examines women's perception of sport and physical activity and explores whether a community approach to sport and physical activity can change women's views and acceptance of physical activity. It is important to note that the terms sport and physical activity are used interchangeably throughout the course of this paper. Introduction: The ‘Mother of all Sport’ programme is a physical activity programme developed by the researcher in conjunction with Limerick Sports Partnership. It was established to encourage more women to get involved in sport and physical activity. The programme primarily targeted mothers over the age of 18years from disadvantaged populations but as the purpose of the programme was to encourage more women to get involved in physical activity being a mother was not a prerequisite and therefore all interested women over 18years were invited to take part. The researcher randomly chose three sports for the programme and purposely picked team sports so groups would have to work together during training and when competing against other teams Background: While literature suggests that there is a need to increase physical activity among women in disadvantaged areas (Kavanagh, Goller, King, Jolley, Crawford, & Turrell, 2005; Withall, Jago & Fox, 2011) there is very little evidence available on programmes that specifically target this group, with programmes tending to focus on women or on disadvantaged areas but seldom evaluating the two together. For this reason the researcher felt it imperative to examine the impact of a women’s physical activity programme in designated disadvantaged communities. Methods: This research took place over two years and involved four groups of women from different disadvantaged areas. Three of the four groups engaged in structured physical activity sessions which were led by the researcher and involved the groups learning the skills and rules of tag rugby, basketball and rounders. The fourth group conducted their sessions independently and was not led by the researcher. Data was collected through questionnaires, interviews, focus groups, field notes and social media. This programme endeavoured to include women from disadvantaged communities in the planning, development and implementation of a sports programme in their own community. Results: Results have shown an increase in the number of women participating in the ‘Mother of all Sport’ programme and has led to an overall increase in physical activity levels among the target group. While additional physical activity was not primarily measured in this study the researcher was privy to physical activity data through her work as a Sports Development Officer in the communities and thus could witness first-hand the additional programmes that were set up as a result of the ‘Mother of all Sport’ programme. The researcher also communicated with the physical activity leaders who lead the additional programmes and was able to access the numbers that were attending the extra physical activity sessions. Results have also shown that sustainability of the programme can be achieved through guidance and education. Conclusion: The results suggests that a community physical activity programme can influence physical activity levels among disadvantaged women and can create a pathway for women to get involved in a range of different activities. In order for a programme to become selfsustainable it is imperative that women are given an opportunity to have a say in the structure of the programme, that they believe the programme is based around their needs and that the researcher/coach facilitates their move towards fulfilling their aims and goals.



  • Master (Research)

First supervisor

Ann MacPhail





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