Women’s professional sport has achieved a surge in popularity in recent years with increasing opportunities for girls to achieve their sporting dreams. The landscape of professional sport is changing for the better with more recognition, participation, and pay equality for women. With the women’s soccer World Cup coming to Australia and New Zealand in 2023 there are exciting times ahead.
Data suggests that female teenagers are far less likely to play sport than their male peers. During primary school the participation numbers are much closer, however, after the transition to high school the dropout numbers for girls are alarmingly high. It’s time to look at some simple strategies to turn this around.
Physical literacy is an aspect of our child’s development that needs to be addressed. Recent research shows that Australian children are less muscularly fit than the previous generation of their parents. The implications of this will be widespread, including increasing risks of lifestyle diseases in our younger population.
Simple interventions include using positive language around activity and exercise for children. Focus on developing the fundamental motor skills of run, jump, hop, skip, throw and catch. Make it part of daily life and keep it fun.
Sport doesn’t have to focus on competition. It is far more important to develop a commitment to participation and enjoyment and the many benefits associated with the activity. How we feel, deal with emotions and our mental resilience are all affected by our activity levels.
Strong bodies help develop strong minds. Regular activity also helps to keep mood and emotions balanced. These are essential elements in a child’s development.
Physical literacy allows a child to develop confidence in their movement ability. This confidence will give them the ability to interact with others in games and sports. When they have the confidence to participate they are more likely to enjoy the experience.
So it doesn’t matter if only a small percentage of athletes reach the elite levels of professional sports. What is really important is that our children see that girls have just as many opportunities as boys. That practice and commitment provide the most benefits. We need our girls to be inspired by our sporting superstars to be fit, healthy and happy.