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She Paddles programme 'so important' to the growth of paddlesports

More than 50 women have attended British Canoeing’s She Paddles conference to help get more women and girls into paddlesports.

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British Canoeing's chief executive Ashley Metcalfe spoke ahead of the conference. (c) Sam Mellish

The event was held during the Canoe Slalom World Championships, at Lee Valley White Water Centre.

The She Paddles movement is trying to close the gap between men and women’s participation in paddlesports.

At the conference, She Paddles ambassadors led round table discussions about the barriers to women’s participation in paddlesports, and other issues they face.

One of the ambassadors, Rebecca Edwards, started proceedings with a game of name that tune.

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She Paddles ambassador Rebecca Edwards (right) was a speaker at the conference. (c) Sam Mellish

Everyone stood up and they could only sit down when they got the question right. 

The last one was told they were going to sing a song. But to everyone’s relief it didn’t happen. 

The activity was designed to show how anxious, or embarrassed, a person might feel doing something for the first time.

“All those mixed emotions are exactly how you feel, especially as a woman, when you walk into a place for the first time,” said Rebecca.

“I used to play professional football so being a woman in a male-dominated environment, I always had those battles.

“I run a boating lake and the women who come are so scared of getting on the water. It’s really important for me to learn those feelings and cut them out.

“That’s how you get women and young girls into sport."

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The conference was a chance to discuss issues faced by women. (c) Sam Mellish

“I’ve really enjoyed being a She Paddles ambassador. I love meeting people, it’s opened so many new avenues to learn.”

British Canoeing’s chief executive Ashley Metcalfe spoke before the event.

He said: “The project around She Paddles, giving everybody the opportunity to claim their space on the water, is absolutely phenomenal and it’s so important.

“I welcome all our she paddles ambassadors, the community, the network you’re creating. Collectively we can all learn from each other… 

“We’re here to listen, we are here to learn and develop and grow and move forwards.”

Find out more about the She Paddles programme.

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The conference took place all day at the Canoe Slalom World Championships. (c) Sam Mellish