‘Getting Girls to the Starting Line’
Giving Girls the Confidence to Love and Enjoy Sport
In 2014, Helen Fraser of the GDST gave a speech on the importance of sport within education. It highlighted the value of sport for all girls and the positive impact on their learning, their health and their future success – through the confidence they build by playing.
‘one of the barriers to women progressing in the workplace isn’t that they don’t win the race, it’s that they don’t even make it to the starting line as they lack the confidence and courage to compete.’
Fraser highlights the life skills of sport participation – ‘taking your team to a fixture, captaining it, building the strategy, enjoying victory, facing defeat – these are building life skills.’ – and ‘EY has linked women in senior management positions to experience with sports, finding that 96 percent of the highest ranking female executives played’. And it is not due to the fact girls don’t want to play – according to the WSFF – 76% of the 15 yr old girls surveyed wanted to take part in more physical activity – when only 31% of girls were actually taking part.
Why are girls not getting to the starting line?
I wasn’t a ‘Sporty’ girl…..
For many – sport start at school and of course – we prefer to spend time doing the things we are good at. This is where a relationship with sport can begin – or subsequently end very quickly!
Girls want choice – some will want to be in the A team, represent their county and so on – and then the majority who want sport to be about ’having fun, being with friends and enjoying sport’ Lauren Laverne’s recent blog post “Why women need to start calling themselves ‘sporty’ ” discusses why women need to reclaim sport for themselves – take from it what they want and need. After all – Laverne puts it perfectly – ‘Sport does not belong to fit people any more than karaoke belongs to those who can actually sing.’
More and more schools are arranging fixtures for A,B, C and D teams to offer the opportunity to all girls to compete and participate in team sport – a great foundation of leadership, team building and dealing with criticism, improving with feedback and importantly dealing with losing. There are also more and more opportunities for girls to play socially at clubs.
What opportunities are there for girls in team sports?
‘You go shopping whilst I’m at the game…..’
We have all seen the various adverts – groups of men watching sport and celebrating, playing sport and celebrating – groups of women shopping, drinking coffee or cocktails – where are the images of women enjoying team sport – not of them running for the perfect ‘beach body’?
According to WSFF ’57% of girls are active because their friends are’ – girls are more influenced by their friends than boys. Through Sport England’s This Girl Can campaign – there have been more positive images for the girls and England Netball’s very successful Back to Netball campaign has seen thousands of women put on a netball bib and take to the court with their friends. Girls are inspired and influenced by their own Mum – ‘mums are a powerful source of encouragement for participation in sport for younger girls’ WSFF with 35% saying they are active because their Mum is active.
“To be a woman is to be fearless”
One of the things that competitive sport teaches girls is a certain type of fearlessness, one that is a vital component of leadership. Sport teaches you to be strong, to face difficulty, to dig deep when things aren’t going your way and to work hard towards a goal – but they don’t feel like lessons as you are playing a sport you love. Girls can not only gain so much from sport – they can bring so much to the game too.
It is time for girls to ‘enjoy’ sport, to want to put on they kit, get on the court with their friends, play hard and have fun – to reclaim sport for women after all #thisgirlcan do anything AND everything!
Sisters n Sport are inspiring a generation of ‘Super Sporty Sisters’ to love sport and be fearless with their friends in enjoying it.
Come and join one of our sessions – available for all abilities from 4 years old through to 16 years old