As a Mum to two teenage girls at this critical life stage, I see first-hand the huge benefits sport and recreation has. It keeps them fit, busy, social and ultimately happy. They feel part of something when surrounded by like-minded kids and I’m just so glad they’re having fun with their teammates, clubmates and coach.
We need to encourage that and support young women to stay active or play sport, just for fun. There is often pressure on kids to be competitive and good at sport. As parents we need to take that pressure off, and really try to motivate our young women to give sport a go or stay active in whatever way is right for them.
I know how good I feel after exercise. I love the feeling of finishing a run or a workout - the post workout high is great for my mental health! It really sets me up for the whole day with more energy and motivation. Young women are going through so many body changes; I see exercise as a great way to empower them and give them confidence in their lives.
That feeling of confidence also comes when our young women are comfortable and don’t feel judged. Even having to wear uniforms can have a detrimental effect. If a girl feels uncomfortable wearing it, she’s unlikely to take part. Being a teenager is tough enough and our girls feel the pressure to look a certain way, to fit a body image. We need to refocus our attention on ensuring our young women are doing and wearing what makes them happy. It comes back to enjoying it and having fun, no matter the score or outcome.
I have begun a Podcast where I interview many elite, highly successful sports women. The one thing they all say is how much they genuinely love their sport and that is what keeps them in it. We, as a society, need to keep our young women active just for the fun of it. The rest will follow.