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Nieuw-West – A Challenge from Amsterdam

In Amsterdam, a significant gender disparity exists in sports participation among girls. To address this issue, the city is seeking a technological solution to motivate more girls in Nieuw-West to engage in sports and exercise. This initiative is not just about promoting physical health; it recognizes the social benefits of sports, including personal growth, skills development, and the positive influence of interacting with others on a healthy lifestyle.

Amsterdam’s Challenge 3 focuses on this matter and counts on the host Floor Popkens, who works at the Sports department of the municipality of Amsterdam.

Interviewer: “What is the background to this challenge?”

Floor Popkens: “The Sport and Exercise Department has done a lot of research into why girls do or don’t practice sports and what they encounter in the city. When you live in poverty, practicing sports is sometimes a very big challenge for this target group and certainly not their priority. In almost every district of Amsterdam, far fewer girls are members of sports clubs than boys. Girls with a ‘city pass’ (a pass for people in Amsterdam with low income that entitles you to discounts and free activities) make much less use of it than boys of the same age. In general, people are often ashamed to use the city pass and many of the activities and facilities that the city provides are not used much. We focus on the areas where most progress could be made. Nieuw-West is such an area.”

Interviewer: “Why a ‘digital’ solution?”

Floor Popkens: “Many young people have an average of eight hours of screen time per day. Even substituting just one of these hours would be a valuable achievement. And then they also get in touch with people who can think along with them about this issue.”

Interviewer: “What has already been done and what didn’t work?”

Floor Popkens: “We are working primarily with schools. That is the place where all children come.

What we are offering now may be too non-committal. Those who already like sports come to these sports classes after school, and the real target group does not.”

Interviewer: “Anything else that you think may help towards a solution?”

Floor Popkens: “For girls, social life is very important. For example, they may be more willing to come to a sports class if it is combined with cooking or having meals together. We also have indications that the current sports offer is not flexible enough.”