SCOUT (Sport Clubs Opening Up To all girls’ participation) focuses on institutionalized sports practices, or otherwise known as organised sports, which take place via federations and sports clubs. The focus on organised sport was chosen because clubs tend to be considered as the prime setting for sport, especially for children and adolescents. The evidence to date indicates that participation in institutionalized sports can play an important part in the development of a child, or adolescent, in different aspects: social, motorical, emotional, behavioural and psychological. Sports practice is located at the epicentre of extracurricular activities that children do today and that occupies them more time outside of family environments (excluding school).

Globally, in 2016, 81,0% of students aged 11–17 years were insufficiently physically active, of which 77,6% of boys and 84,7% of girls (The Lancet, 2016). Although participation predictors are broad, still, there is a clear evidence that relates girls’ low sports’ participation to a low socioeconomic status, as well as to religion/culture, gender stereotyping and discrimination, and lack of opportunity and support systems especially geared towards the girls. In particular, further research demonstrates that after-school and/or organised sports programme are the only organized opportunity to participate in intentional physical activity for these girls.

The physical activity gap between boys and girls starts early, and increases with age. Therefore, it is important that the factors that influence exclusion are minimized, and already at an early age, so as to promote the participation of girls in sports. Moreover, adapting interventions and opportunities to these groups will be important if sports clubs are to contribute to challenging social and cultural norms on a large scale and narrowing the gender gap.

Sport is, in effect, an instrument for reaching social inclusion (Council of the EU, 2010 – European Year of Social Inclusion 2010) and Positive Youth Development (PYD) is a promising approach for organised sports programmes seeking to mitigate social inequities through offering safe, participatory spaces for young girls. The Positive Youth Development (PYD) is an intentional pro-social approach, which takes a developmental, strengths-based approach in supporting youth by cultivating their talents and strengths in a variety of areas. It engages the youth within their communities and works on building their strengths and providing support and opportunities to help them transition to adulthood in a productive and healthy manner.

The Overall Objective of the proposed action is to increase the level of inclusion of young girls at risk of social exclusion or vulnerability and promoting positive youth development through organised sports.