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Would it surprise you to know that girls are twice as likely to drop out of sporting activities through their teenage years than boys? Or to realize that most young girls start engaging in organized sports up to two whole years later than boys? 

While the reasons behind these differences are complex (and include social factors, parental attitude and a lack of access to female sports role models), the solutions are in fact much more straightforward. So, let’s start addressing them today so that young girls can have a healthier and happier tomorrow.

Why it’s important: 4 key benefits of sport for young girls

  • Physical health:

Engaging in regular sport contributes to general fitness, strengthens bones and muscles (reducing the risk of osteoporosis) and assists in maintaining a healthy weight and lifestyle.

  • Psychological health:

Physical exercise goes hand in hand with the release of endorphins, which are a key component in mental health. They can relieve stress and combat depression and anxiety. In addition, it’s been shown that girls who play sport are more likely to have a positive body image, something that is increasingly important as they navigate the teenage years.

  • Social wellbeing:

Sport, particularly team-based sport, offers the opportunity to increase social circles and make friends outside of school. Team work skills are developed, and achievement in sport (not just winning, but building skills) also contributes to building confidence.

  • Educational benefits:

Studies indicate that girls who play sport are more likely to graduate than those who don’t. Taking time out for sport improves memory and concentration, putting young girls in a better position to learn.

How to get started: 4 things you can do now

  • Get outside!

Start in the backyard or at a nearby park and just keep it relaxed and enjoyable. You don’t have to be skilled yourself and it doesn’t have to be an intense learning activity – it can just be the chance to play catch or kick a soccer ball around. It’ll build coordination and give your daughter an idea of the types of skills she can build.

  • Start watching women’s sport

It’s a sad reality that access to women’s sporting role models still isn’t as straightforward as it should be. But we can change that: go to as many games as you can and check for televised options as well. Watch highly-skilled athletes is both inspiring and motivating and will give your daughter a sense of what she can achieve. Keep in mind too that if you’re after something inexpensive and closer to home, local sports clubs often welcome spectators so you could head down to the local oval or courts and check out regional competitions.

  • Give your daughter a chance to find the sport - or sports - that are right for her. One of the best ways to do this is to attend a school holiday sports camp – you can book into a coaching program that gives her the chance to experience a sport for a few days, learn key skills and get a sense of what she’d like to pursue. Remember, there are sports for every personality type, so trying lots of them is a great way to give your daughter the chance to fall in love with a new sport.

  • Be supportive

Keep language positive and reinforce achievements rather than focussing on win or lose. A key reason for young girl’s dropping out of sports is fear of not being good enough at it. You can combat this by encouraging them to enjoy the process and reinforcing that it’s a worthwhile pursuit regardless of match results.

You can find school holiday programs in Melbourne, Australia and throughout the United States through all major school holiday periods too! School holiday camps are a great way to introduce your girl into a new sport, allowing her to meet new friends and try a sport before you invest heavily as a parent.

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