State of the Nation on Teenage Sport

  • Jul 31,2017

Article from today's SPORT FOR BUSINESS -

State of the Nation on Teenage Sport:

Lidl have been very involved sponsors with the Ladies Gaelic Football Association since coming on board as major partners in 2016 and they have today revealed the results of a survey which show just why sport is so important for young girls and women.

The harsh reality is that 50% of girls have given up playing sport by the time they reach the age of 14. The critical cut off point for their participation is in secondary school and the main factor in why is that their friends are not playing.

This could be seen as a vicious cycle but there are interventions that can effectively delay that hanging up of boots and give girls the opportunities that are lost to them through not participating in sport.

These include the simple fact of parents encouraging their daughters to carry on with sport. Parents understand the benefits of sport in a social context with 72 per cent seeing sport as increasing mental well being and 70 per cent of those whose daughters play sport recognising that it increases confidence.

It still remains the case though that there is more active encouragement of boys to keep playing if they consider giving up and this should not be the case in a society where we claim to value equality of opportunity.

One of the key factors playing a part in this may show up the different views of Mothers and daughters. When asked if they thought that playing sport made you too muscly or in some way unattractive only 16% of girls answered yes but more than twice as many Mothers, at 34% answered that they thought this was the case.

Body image cannot be ignored as it does have an influence particularly at this age group but that in itself should be a factor in continuing to play sport.

One of the questions asked about the girls own sense of ‘worth’ in terms of body confidence. 61 per cent of those who play sports rated themselves as between 7 and 10 on the scale as opposed to 42 per cent among those who don’t play sports.

In terms of mental well being as well, the figures paint a vivid picture of why sport matters. 80 of those who play sport see themselves as 7-10 on the scale while only 67 per cent of those who don’t play sport are at the same level.

Translating that into what it means for young girls 32 per cent of those who played felt they were supported within their lives on at least a weekly basis. That number crashes to less than half at 15 per cent among those who don’t play.

Going further the survey asked women aged between 18 and 45 how equipped they felt to cope with the pressures of life. 73 per cent of those who play sport said they rated themselves 7-10 on a scale of ten while the number was only 50 per cent among those who don’t play.

This is important research because of what it tells us about the importance of sporting activity, the gaps that still exist between boys and girls and where we as individuals and society need to act in order to bridge them.