The recently released Australian Youth Confidence Report has revealed that 15-17 year olds are the most likely to give up on sport and only 55% of Australian girls aged 11-17 play sport in a typical week. Key findings of the report also found 15% of girls don’t like playing sport because they don’t think they’re ‘any good’, a close second to ‘having too much schoolwork’.
At Seymour, we consider these indicators carefully, and structure sporting programs around meeting the individual needs of girls by carefully tailoring programs and selecting coaches we believe will best achieve our outcomes.
- Girls who play have improved academic outcomes. The positive influence sport plays on learning is well recognised. There is a growing body of research that links physical activity to improvements in academic achievement. This is because games that are unpredictable and require problem solving help the brain to improve executive functions, which are the cognitive control skills like the ability to focus our attention, be creative and flexible in our thinking, utilize self-control, control intense emotions, and store and manipulate information in our working memory (such as the ability to do mental maths).
- Girls who play have improved physical and mental health benefits. Being physically active as a teenager can help to protect against a wide range of health risks in adolescence and into adulthood. But being active also has many immediate benefits for girls, in particular, for mental health. Research shows that pre-teen and teenage girls who play on a sports team report greater life satisfaction and feel healthier and happier than girls who don’t. Findings show a strong correlation between sports, brain activity, and mental health which was greater in students who participated in organized sports as opposed to those who did not.
- Girls who play have greater self-esteem. There is little doubt that part of the power of sport lies in the social experience for young females. Involvement in team sports has been positively associated with social acceptance and a sense of belonging, especially where such involvement is characterised by positive coaching, progressive skill development and peer support. The importance of a positive experience is critical in building self-esteem and the significance of sourcing and retaining outstanding coaches, role models and student leaders is of critical importance.
- Girls who play learn valuable life skills. Sport teaches life lessons in a uniquely memorable way, providing functional and interpersonal skills that are useful on and off the field. When girls work with teachers, coaches and teammates to win games and achieve goals, they learn how to be successful and how to function within a unit, to work collectively with others, demonstrate commitment and discipline. In sports as in life, sometimes you lead and sometimes you follow. And there’s nothing that develops mental toughness quite like sport. It is the inner voice that tells us to find a way, not an excuse. It’s the ability to experience failures and setbacks without becoming discouraged.
- Girls who play have fun. Fun is consistently ranked by girls as one of the best predictors of whether they will continue to participate. Given a choice between fun and winning, most still say having fun, preferring play on a losing team than sitting on the bench of a winning team. Research suggests that creating a fun environment will enhance enjoyment but in addition to this, coach-student interactions and activities that girls perceive as enjoyable may also have a positive impact on continued participation.
Although not compulsory, 92% of girls aged between 11-17 at Seymour play one or more sports. At Seymour, we consider all of the above factors carefully and aim to ensure all sporting programs meet the needs of girls to encourage and maintain involvement, build self-esteem and life skills.
Through a fun, supported and girls only environment, we aim to buck the national trend and encourage all our girls to enjoy playing sport for fun, friendship and fitness at the level they choose to participate.
Director of Sport