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Crisis of confidence: Could we do more to inspire female sporting talent?

Too many girls are dropping out of sport during their teenage years. Just 14% of girls age 5-16 achieve recommend levels of physical activity. This falls to 10% of girls age 13-16. By the age of 14-16, 78% of girls understand the importance of having an active lifestyle but only 28% really enjoy taking part in physical activity. Is there a reason for this?

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Challenges for girls in sport

There are longstanding associations between sport and masculinity. Unfortunately we are still a long way from a level playing field and sportswomen are experiencing body-image pressures from many sources.

Sometimes the positive outcomes of sport for women are constrained by gender-based discrimination in all areas and at all levels of sport and physical activity, fuelled by ongoing stereotypes of girls’ physical abilities and social roles. They are often segregated into different types of sports, competitions and events specifically targeted at women. The value placed on women’s sports is lower, resulting in fewer resources and unequal wages and prizes. In the media, women’s sport is often marginalised and presented to reinforce gender stereotypes.

Other challenges include societal beauty ideals which have affected millions of girls worldwide for far too long. For example, statistics show that around 70% of girls aged 18 to 30 don’t like their bodies, while 80% of girls start thinking they are too fat by the age of ten. These body issues can negatively impact mental health and lead to depression, eating disorders, anxiety, substance abuse, and health problems, eventually affecting their involvement in sports.

phone

 

Mental health disorders also have strong correlations with poor physical health. If an athlete thinks that she is not strong, pretty, or skinny enough, she might take unhealthy steps to change her physical appearance. Having exaggerated insecurities due to societal expectations can permanently damage their mental health and self-confidence. They are also what hurts their ability to excel to their maximum potential in life.

 

Why should you take part in sport?

benefits

The benefits of sports for people are well-known. For us girls, sports is an activity that can teach us commitment, how to concentrate under stress, how to relax, set and achieve goals, respect others, accept responsibility and failure, and how to be both courteous winners and losers. Extensive research has shown that physical activity and sport enhance girls’ and young women’s mental, psychological, and spiritual health in numerous ways. Having better health, fewer chronic illnesses, higher body esteem, reduced risk of obesity, healthier periods, stronger bones and reduced drug use. Most importantly, a healthier view of life and themselves, with higher self esteem, better self-image and more self-confidence

 

Over the past three decades, opportunities for women in sport have grown significantly. Sportswomen now perform on the world stage, gain media coverage and win corporate sponsors.

emma

Female athletes can be more than just role models for the sport they play. They can also teach girls how important it is to be committed, healthy, intelligent, brave, a leader, and most importantly, not to be afraid to break society’s standards for women worldwide. Take Emma Raducanu, a young and upcoming female tennis player who recently won the US open, just a year after taking her A-levels! Her resilience and high powered response to the challenges that the sporting world has faced has inspired many.

Another female athlete, Simone Biles, an American gymnast, is a great role model. Throughout her career, she has been transparent about her mental health and placing it over the demand that she should somehow push through overwhelming anxieties to perform.

simone

 

Some girls have loved sport in primary school but fallen out of love with it due to their perceived image or it becoming too competitive, some have always been disengaged and haven’t had the wide experience of sport. With 28% of girls only having done PE at school and no sport anywhere else. Luckily for us, as pupils of BSGD from years 7-11 we participate in sport at least once a week through compulsory PE lessons, where a range of activities are enjoyed. Although sometimes daunting, this is very beneficial to us.

Bolton Schools response

A girls’ confidence in sport has always been a topical issue in schools. Mrs Heatherington, Head of the PE Department, is passionate about equal opportunities and throughout her 30 years at Bolton School has strived to change this perception. I’m sure you are all aware of interform competitions, a competition between form groups in a year where different sports are played competitively by different sporting abilities. “Interform competitions are some of my best memories of Bolton School” says ex pupil. 

If you find sport too competitive, remember our school offers friendly clubs too!

Our school has seized to overcome these challenges that girls in sport face and every year encourages girls to take up a new sport or continue with one.

run
lucy

 

Lucy Pixton, a Year 13 student has experienced a decline in the participation in sports from year 7. Like most pupils, in Year 7 Lucy exploited the sporting opportunities offered at school and participated in several clubs throughout the week, she “thoroughly enjoyed doing this” and believes “it was a great opportunity to make friends.” Lucy participated in several athletics competitions for school and also for Bury Athletics Club where she also attended weekly sessions. She believed that these experiences in a competitive environment “built confidence.”

As “workload got bigger, taking up more time”… As part of Curriculum Enrichment several sixth form students, including Lucy have taken part in Sport, where a different sport is enjoyed every week. These sixth form students agree that this is a great way to keep your mind and body healthy.

By Eve Gould

Too many girls are dropping out of sport during their teenage years. Just 14% of girls age 5-16 achieve recommend levels of physical activity. This falls to 10% of girls age 13-16. By the age of 14-16, 78% of girls understand the importance of having an active lifestyle but only 28% really enjoy taking part in physical activity. Is there a reason for this?

down

 

Challenges for girls in sport

There are longstanding associations between sport and masculinity. Unfortunately we are still a long way from a level playing field and sportswomen are experiencing body-image pressures from many sources.

Sometimes the positive outcomes of sport for women are constrained by gender-based discrimination in all areas and at all levels of sport and physical activity, fuelled by ongoing stereotypes of girls’ physical abilities and social roles. They are often segregated into different types of sports, competitions and events specifically targeted at women. The value placed on women’s sports is lower, resulting in fewer resources and unequal wages and prizes. In the media, women’s sport is often marginalised and presented to reinforce gender stereotypes.

Other challenges include societal beauty ideals which have affected millions of girls worldwide for far too long. For example, statistics show that around 70% of girls aged 18 to 30 don’t like their bodies, while 80% of girls start thinking they are too fat by the age of ten. These body issues can negatively impact mental health and lead to depression, eating disorders, anxiety, substance abuse, and health problems, eventually affecting their involvement in sports.

phone

 

Mental health disorders also have strong correlations with poor physical health. If an athlete thinks that she is not strong, pretty, or skinny enough, she might take unhealthy steps to change her physical appearance. Having exaggerated insecurities due to societal expectations can permanently damage their mental health and self-confidence. They are also what hurts their ability to excel to their maximum potential in life.

 

Why should you take part in sport?

benefits

The benefits of sports for people are well-known. For us girls, sports is an activity that can teach us commitment, how to concentrate under stress, how to relax, set and achieve goals, respect others, accept responsibility and failure, and how to be both courteous winners and losers. Extensive research has shown that physical activity and sport enhance girls’ and young women’s mental, psychological, and spiritual health in numerous ways. Having better health, fewer chronic illnesses, higher body esteem, reduced risk of obesity, healthier periods, stronger bones and reduced drug use. Most importantly, a healthier view of life and themselves, with higher self esteem, better self-image and more self-confidence

 

Over the past three decades, opportunities for women in sport have grown significantly. Sportswomen now perform on the world stage, gain media coverage and win corporate sponsors.

emma

Female athletes can be more than just role models for the sport they play. They can also teach girls how important it is to be committed, healthy, intelligent, brave, a leader, and most importantly, not to be afraid to break society’s standards for women worldwide. Take Emma Raducanu, a young and upcoming female tennis player who recently won the US open, just a year after taking her A-levels! Her resilience and high powered response to the challenges that the sporting world has faced has inspired many.

Another female athlete, Simone Biles, an American gymnast, is a great role model. Throughout her career, she has been transparent about her mental health and placing it over the demand that she should somehow push through overwhelming anxieties to perform.

simone

 

Some girls have loved sport in primary school but fallen out of love with it due to their perceived image or it becoming too competitive, some have always been disengaged and haven’t had the wide experience of sport. With 28% of girls only having done PE at school and no sport anywhere else. Luckily for us, as pupils of BSGD from years 7-11 we participate in sport at least once a week through compulsory PE lessons, where a range of activities are enjoyed. Although sometimes daunting, this is very beneficial to us.

Bolton Schools response

A girls’ confidence in sport has always been a topical issue in schools. Mrs Heatherington, Head of the PE Department, is passionate about equal opportunities and throughout her 30 years at Bolton School has strived to change this perception. I’m sure you are all aware of interform competitions, a competition between form groups in a year where different sports are played competitively by different sporting abilities. “Interform competitions are some of my best memories of Bolton School” says ex pupil. 

If you find sport too competitive, remember our school offers friendly clubs too!

Our school has seized to overcome these challenges that girls in sport face and every year encourages girls to take up a new sport or continue with one.

run
lucy

 

Lucy Pixton, a Year 13 student has experienced a decline in the participation in sports from year 7. Like most pupils, in Year 7 Lucy exploited the sporting opportunities offered at school and participated in several clubs throughout the week, she “thoroughly enjoyed doing this” and believes “it was a great opportunity to make friends.” Lucy participated in several athletics competitions for school and also for Bury Athletics Club where she also attended weekly sessions. She believed that these experiences in a competitive environment “built confidence.”

As “workload got bigger, taking up more time”… As part of Curriculum Enrichment several sixth form students, including Lucy have taken part in Sport, where a different sport is enjoyed every week. These sixth form students agree that this is a great way to keep your mind and body healthy.

By Eve Gould

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