Girl power was the order of the day as students from secondary schools in Erewash celebrated their work as part of a national campaign to inspire more females to take up sport.
Girls from The Long Eaton School, Friesland School, Saint John Houghton CVA and Kirk Hallam Community Academy were invited by Erewash School Sport Partnership to use the state-of-the-art facilities at the University of Derby as part of the This Girl Can initiative.
They tried out the climbing wall, took part in a football session with ex-KHCA student and semi-professional footballer Maddy Cusack and used specialist equipment to measure sprint speeds and jumping height.
Maddy, who plays for Aston Villa, said it was great to be inspiring girls of a similar age.
She said: “I talked to the girls about my own experiences and how they can get involved in sport. It’s also important that they realise that they don’t have to play sport to be involved, there are a lot of other roles available. I also ran a football session with them which was a bit of fun and just teaching them about how they can stay active.”
Rhian Lilley, Erewash School Sport Partnership development manager, said: “The girls had a fantastic time at our This Girl Can conference using the state-of-the-art facilities at the University of Derby and it was a great way to celebrate all of the good work that they have been doing this year.
“We invited Maddy Cusack to talk to them as she is only a couple of years older than them and is at university studying Marketing and is also a semi-professional football player.
“It’s great because they could really relate to her and she will hopefully inspire them to engage in sport and be active.
“The girls have also shared the activities that they’ve run in school as part of the This Girl Can campaign. Some of them have been into primary schools to run sessions to inspire the younger pupils.
“We’ve had some great feedback from the girls and teaching staff about the campaign and it’s really helped them with so many skills. They have become fantastic role models and we are very proud of them.”
Vic Daly, Head of PE at Kirk Hallam Community Academy, said her students had really embraced the This Girl Can campaign.
She said: “They’ve got so much out of it. They’ve done yoga, aerobics, glow sports, trampolining, volleyball, benchball, tennis and lots more. We’ve been running sessions on Tuesdays after schools since September and we’ve always had at least 50 girls at each session. We’ve run a reward scheme and they’ve learnt leadership skills and been into primary schools and for a lot of them their confidence has improved so much.”
Abbie Breakwell, 14, from The Long Eaton School, said she really enjoyed the This Girl Can conference.
She said: “I’m a part-time day wheelchair user and the This Girl Can event was great because I love sport and I was with lots of girls my own age who also love sport.”

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