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Why girls should participate in sports

Danebank soccer teamIt was wonderful to see so many girls participating in the Senior School Athletics Carnival last Thursday.

The skill of those who broke long-held records and the enthusiasm of those who are not gifted athletes and still competed to ensure that their House gained points are a joy to behold.

On days like these, the obvious benefits of sport can be seen physically, socially and emotionally through team work and engagement.

I know that many Danebank girls play Saturday sport and I love to go and watch them, however, at times the travel can be arduous.

Many of us long for times past when traffic was not so heavy, but I want you to imagine that it is 1900 and that your daughter is a student at Abbotsleigh. She is a mad-keen tennis player, but all matches are played on the courts in the eastern suburbs … there is no Harbour Bridge, no cars, no trains, no buses.

So, to be part of the Saturday tennis competition, you set off with your daughter at the crack of dawn in the horse and buggy via the dirt roads through Pennant Hills then Parramatta and through the city to the eastern suburbs. Parents did this every Saturday from May through to December and after playing four sets, they made the journey home.

So why, throughout the decades, have parents devoted so much time and effort to ensure that their girls engage in sports?

A researcher, Brooke De Lench (2014) says:

“The benefits of sports for girls are well-known. Sports teach girls commitment, respect for others, how to relax, concentrate under stress, set and achieve goals, accept responsibility and failure and be gracious winners.”

Extensive research shows that physical activity and sport can enhance the mental, psychological and spiritual health of girls and young women.

Health benefits

  • Better self-reported health
  • Fewer chronic illnesses
  • Higher body esteem
  • Reduced risk of obesity
  • Healthier menstruation
  • Stronger bones and reduced risk of osteoporosis
  • Reduced cigarette and illicit drug use

Educational benefits

Playing sports helps girls do better in school. They:

  • Are better at organising, setting priorities, and budgeting time
  • Perform better in maths and science
  • Have a lower dropout rate

Social skills

Girls who play sports develop stronger social skills as sports provide opportunities for:

  • Entry into an achievement-based social network
  • Greater empathy with peers
  • More community involvement as adults
  • Better emotional/psychological health

Emotional and psychological benefits

Playing sports helps girls emotionally and psychologically to develop:

  • Higher self-esteem
  • Better self-image
  • More self-confidence
  • Lower rates of depression and risk of suicide

Post-school success

The path to the post-school success and entry to the boardroom may well go through the girl's involvement in sport as:

  • Sports help girls develop leadership skills, self-reliance and self-discipline. According to researchers at Catholic University, “women who are athletes are more achievement oriented, independent, self-confident and inner-controlled". Nearly nine out of 10 women executives in a recent survey by mutual fund giant Oppenheimer said sports helped them be more disciplined. Nearly seven out of 10 said sports helped them to develop leadership skills that contributed to their professional success.
  • Sports enhance girls' ability to function as part of a team
  • Sports may provide a higher career outcomes: "Sports is nothing more than organising a group for high performance. And that's what businesses do."

The bottom line is that while sports are not the magic potion, they do help girls navigate the joys and challenges of adolescence. I look forward to seeing all of your daughters engage in the sporting opportunities at Danebank.

 

Mrs Maryanne Davis, Principal

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