OTLEY has launched a drive to promote female participation in health, sports and fitness in the town.

The #thisotleygirlcan campaign is aimed at encouraging as many girls and women as possible to take part in sport and fitness and is backed by individuals and groups including town mayor Cllr Sylvia Thomson, Leeds City Councillor Colin Campbell, Otley Town Council, Otley BID, Otley Chamber of Trade and Otley Town Partnership.

The campaign launches with a short video showing some of Otley’s finest athletes and includes footage of individual sportswomen such as Team GB tag rugby player Anita Barton and local teams such as Otliensians Rounders, Otley Netball Club and Weston Lane Juniors. Also featured are informal running groups such as Run Mums, coldwater swimmers taking a dip in the River Wharfe and businesses including Pilates in Motion and Zetsurin Karate.

Girls and women wishing to take up a sport are encouraged to visit a dedicated page on the Otley Town Council website (otleytowncouncil.gov.uk/community/this-otley-girl-can/) that lists both contact details of participants in the video and other sporting and fitness organisations with a female slant.

Cllr Sylvia Thomson said: “According to Women In Sport, there are 700,000 more inactive women than men in the country and nearly 60% of girls are not reaching the recommended exercise guidelines – and these figures may be further challenged thanks to the Covid-19 pandemic. As such, it is vital to encourage as many girls and women as possible to take part in sport and fitness.

“One of my chosen charities for my tenure as mayor is Weston Lane Juniors and I am proud to say the club now encourages more girls to join, while also having top-class female coaches and role models such as under-11s coach Olivia Boardman.”

Leeds City Councillor for Otley and Yeadon Colin Campbell funded the video via a Members Improvements in the Community and the Environment (known as MICE monies) grant. He said: “I am proud to back this fantastic campaign aimed at getting more Otley girls and women moving whether that be on an individual basis, as part of an informal group or as part of an organised team. Otley has a wide range of female participation sports and activities on offer and the video highlights some of the fabulous options available.”

Organisations, individuals and teams wishing to list their services on the webpage should email admin@otleytowncouncil.go.uk with an image, a short paragraph on what they do and contact details.

Female participants in the town are also encouraged to use the hashtag #thisotleygirlcan on their social media profiles to help spread the word on female sport in Otley.