Published: 30/06/2005, Volume II5, No. 5962 Page 22

Sponsored by the Faculty of Public Health

It may not have been Match of the Day, but nonetheless those were definitely BBC cameras filming Gladstone Women's Sports Association as they played football.

The interest shown by the BBC's Look East news team followed the announcement that the Healthy Living Partnership from Greater Peterborough Primary Care Partnership had won the Reducing Health Inequalities award for a project that focused on what the judges called 'a big priority' - more exercise in the community.

'The young women and girls of the association are from the local Pakistani community in Peterborough and previously they had no opportunity to take part in sports, ' says Rachael Kumar, a community health worker from the Healthy Living Partnership. 'This was due to a lack of culturally acceptable opportunities.' The answer to addressing this inequality lay in a nationally recognised scheme set up to train ethnic minority women volunteers as sports leaders. It proved so successful that, in a bid to be recognised as role models for others, the women went on to form the Gladstone Women's Sports Association.

Taking the lead but still enjoying the support of health professionals, the same women now deliver a number of after-school programmes, of which football is just one activity.

British Sports Trust moderators have already commended the leaders on the standard of their performance.

The sound management and sustainability of the project also impressed the judges' panel.

'Winning the HSJ award has meant a lot to everyone involved in the Sports Leadership Programme. It is great recognition of the work we have been doing within the community, especially for our volunteers, ' says Ms Kumar. 'Winning the award has contributed to the growing number of women who have been trained as part of the programme, and the everincreasing number of women and girls participating in the activities.' They are not the only ones to realise the significance of the award. 'The Healthy Living Partnership now has a respected status within the community, which is helping it build relationships with other organisations and local businesses, ' says Ms Kumar.