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Scotland manager Shelley Kerr urges free sport for children

She told the Scottish Parliament no child should have to pay to take part in sport.

Scotland women’s manager Shelley Shelley Kerr was speaking at the Scottish Parliament (Andrew Milligan/PA)
Scotland women’s manager Shelley Shelley Kerr was speaking at the Scottish Parliament (Andrew Milligan/PA)

The manager of the Scottish women’s football team has called for free access to sporting facilities for children to improve the nation’s health.

Speaking at the Scottish Parliament, Shelley Kerr said the cost of taking part in some activities is too much for some parents.

The 49-year-old was speaking as the national team prepares for its first World Cup in France next month.

Everyone starts playing sports to have fun, so fun shouldn’t cost you any money. Shelley Kerr

She said: “I don’t think that any child anywhere should pay to play sport.

“Facilities should be free and accessible. If you want to change the welfare of this country, they shouldn’t pay.”

Kerr told how her daughter took part in a range of sporting activities as a youngster, despite being raised by a single parent.

She added: “I was skint, but I wanted her to go to it. It should be more accessible.

“Everyone starts playing sports to have fun, so fun shouldn’t cost you any money.”

Kerr also believes a campaign highlighting the diversity in sport is needed to encourage more women to take part.

This includes a wide range of ability levels and body types being shown on adverts.

She said: “It’s about educating that every single person in this life is unique – not everyone is the same.

“It shouldn’t be aimed at just elite sporting athletes.”

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Kerr said she hopes the squad can inspire more people to take up sport as they represent Scotland at the World Cup (PA)

The Scotland team faces Jamaica on May 28 at Hampden for a World Cup warm-up clash.

Kerr said she hopes for a “watershed” moment by attracting a record 10,000 spectators to watch the side at the national stadium, where they will play for the first time in seven years.

She described ambitions for the World Cup – which will see Scotland face England in the opening match – next month as progression out of the group stages.

The World Cup squad will be announced next week, a decision the manager describes as the “hardest” she has ever had to make.

She said she hopes the team can help inspire others to get involved with sport.

“We’re ready, we just want to fast-forward to getting to France,” she said.

“It really puts sport on the map, especially for Scotland competing in a major finals – its first one.

“Whether it encourages more girls to play football or just girls to get involved in sport, that’s fantastic.

“But we also have a duty to inspire boys and men.”

A Scottish Government spokeswoman said the Active Scotland Delivery Plan supports young people to develop lifelong participation in sport and physical activity from the earliest age.

The programme achieved an all-time high of 7.3 million participant sessions in 2017-18 – an increase of nearly 3% on the previous year.

There are also now 196 community sports hubs across Scotland.

The spokeswoman added: “The Community Sport Hubs project includes a focus on establishing and developing school-based hubs which bring the school, clubs and community groups together.

“These hubs can help ensure that community access to the school estate is made available and community usage can be maximised.”

PA

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