A talented teenage footballer and coach has spoken about the prejudices girls still face in sport months after being appointed an ambassador for a national project.

Sophie Corbett, 14, from Irvine, is an ambassador or Young Influencer for Project 51, a joint programme between Sported and Women in Sport.

It aims to tackle gender stereotyping at the grassroots by helping community groups in socially deprived areas of the UK, to improve their knowledge and understanding of how to engage girls and young women, aged 11-18, in sport and physical activity.

Since her appointment through former team Clark Drive late last year, St Matthew’s Academy Fourth Year pupil Sophie has attended a conference in London with another seven girls from throughout the UK who were selected for the project and been involved in several other activities and events.

Although now playing for Kilwinning Community Football Academy U15s, Sophie is helping assist with coaching the Clark Drive U7s and U9s.

Her role has involved participating in a number of events.

She took par t in a launch event in London hosted by Women in Sport and Nike. All girls took part in brainstorming sessions to tackle the biggest challenges they think exist for girls in sport.

They also experienced a Social Media workshop with Nike about how the girls can, and will, use this over the duration of the project to influence and inspire other girls to challenge gender stereotypes and play sport.

Sophie also attended the European Championships Golf tournament at Gleneagles which was a historic occasion because it was the first time the sport ran a mixed doubles tournament, promoting more equality within the sport.

Sophie left the day inspired, saying: “It gave me hope for the future of women in sport as men and women played together.”

The youngster was given an award at school and coaches at her local club and in local schools through Active Schools.

She is planning how to use her influencer role to engage more girls with football and other sports.

This week, Sophie was set to speak at Sported UK’s 10th Anniversary Event in Edinburgh about the challenges for girls her age in sport and what she would like to see change so that more girls remain engaged with sport as they grow older.

Fifty-one per cent of the UK population are female, yet when it comes to sport and physical activity, 1.6 million more men are playing sport once per week than women.

Gender stereotypes are one of the key barriers preventing more women and girls getting active.

For example, only 43 per cent of girls say they have the same choice as boys at school in sport and exercise, and amongst secondary school-age children, being ‘sporty’ is still widely seen as a masculine trait.

Sophie added: “I love to play football. I coach at Clark Drive and used to play here but the team folded because we don’t have enough players in my age group because a lot of girls just lose interest.

“It’s difficult for girls to get involved in sports because there’s a lot of sports that girls are told not to do, such as football, because it’s a male-dominated sport but I don’t really see that.

“I think it’s hard for girls to get into it because they think that they’re not going to make friends or it’s not going to make them very popular. “A lot of girls from my team didn’t tell anyone in their school that they played football because they thought it was kind of embarrassing.

“My school don’t allow girls to play football. They are told that it’s a boys’ sport.

“We won’t get a game because we are not good enough, we’re not strong enough, but if they actually saw us, they would realise that’s not true.

“Peoples’ attitudes towards football need to change.

“They need to appreciate that girls can do it and it’s not just about boys playing.

“A lot of girls are very good and very strong and it’s quite frustrating to see that a lot of girls aren’t going for it and saying they are not as confident because people are bringing them down with their opinions.”

Sophie added: “I’d love to inspire other girls into sport and I love coaching because it develops all the girls’ skills and I can pass on my knowledge to make them better players.”