Sports Minister Helen Grant was at Outwood Grange Academy, in Outwood near Wakefield, where she watched pupils in action.
A keen athlete in her youth, Mrs Grant declined to demonstrate her own sporting skills but was full of praise for the work the school is doing to attract girls into sport.
She said: “I am here today at this wonderful school to see a marvellous demonstration of gymnastics but also to see what these girls are doing in relation to sport.
“As Minister I am very, very keen to get rid of this gender gap, a two million gender gap between the number of men doing sport and the number of women doing sport and we want it to close.
“Sport is brilliant, it is a force for the good, it’s not just the health and fitness, its the confidence and self-esteem that it can give to people and all those important life lessons - leadership, teamwork, discipline, respect.
“I want women and girls to do what they want to do and I think we have got to listen to what women and girls want, not tell them, we must not be prescriptive, and provide it for them.
“I actually think there’s a sport out there for everyone and I also think governing bodies need to innovate more and attract girls and women and get them involved and where we are seeing best practice - boxing, netball hockey - we must share that.”
Mrs Grant was wearing a t-shirt with the slogan “This Girl Can” and the Minister said sport had been an important part of her own early years.
She said: “I grew up in the North, in wonderful Carlisle in Cumbria and I represented my county hockey, tennis, athletics, cross-country and was North of England junior judo champion so I could then, whether I can now, who knows?”
“It did so much for me, it really did. It was health, it was the fitness but also it gave me confidence.”
Outwood Grange is in the Morley and Outwood constituency currently held by Shadow Chancellor Ed Balls which the Conservatives are hoping to win with their candidate Andrea Jenkyns at the General Election in May.
Mr Balls won the seat with a majority of 1,101 votes in the 2010 election.