Why Girls Are Dropping Out of Sport

We have a really big issue in Canada with respect to girls in sport. They aren’t participating in organized sport, and those that do, leave early. In fact, girls are six times more likely to drop out of sports than are boys in Canada by the age of 15. And if a girl is not involved in sport by the age of 10, she has a 10% chance of being an active adult. Let that sink in. 

Now let’s start with the basics. Why is sport so important for kids, especially girls, to be involved in? First, there is the health aspect. Children need 60 minutes of exercise per day to be healthy. If you think your child is getting that at school, think again. They are not. Physical education programs are being cut year after year, and recess does not mean active play time. When girls participate in sport, they have a decreased rate of starting smoking, using drugs and alcohol, a lower rate of teen pregnancy rates, a reduced risk of being overweight, and lower rates of disease including cancer.

Second is confidence. A new report that surveyed more than 10,000 girls across the country has found a positive correlation between playing sports and increased confidence, body image, academic performance and personal relationships. Girls are more confident in their body image and looks, abilities and personalities when they play sports. This correlation is huge, and should be thought of every time you sign your child up for activities. And another cool stat? Over 90% of women who are CEO’s in North America played high performance level sports growing up.

Other than health and a more positive mental state, there are so many things that we learn from sport. We learn how to win, how to lose, teamwork, time management. We can meet new friends, travel across our country and around the globe. But even with all of these positive elements, girls are still dropping out. Why?

Research says there are six major reasons as to why: 

  • Lack of positive female role models in the media. In fact, less than 5% of all sports coverage is given to female athletes. 
  • Transportation and safety issues. 
  • A perceived lack of options for girls versus what is out there for boys 
  • Cost 
  • Social stigma for being a female athlete. Think ‘tomboy’ or ‘butch’ terminology 
  • A decrease quality experience 

But is there more? We think so. In 2018, we worked with hundreds of girls ages 5 – 21 who are currently involved in sports or have been involved in the past. When asking them why they or their friends drop out, we heard a few other concrete reasons that need to be addressed. 

First, was time. When speaking with girls in junior high and high school, they only have so much time on their hands. They have school full time, community and/or family obligations, social or friend obligations, and perhaps other activities that are not sport (i.e. band, art, etc). One thing we heard over and over again was they needed to choose between sports and having a part time job. They want money to buy $20 mascara or new jeans every month, and parents don’t have the means to do this. And when you’re a teenager, these things can end up taking priority. We hear this from both the parents and the girls. We do our very best to encourage the girls and parents to think long term on this. Sports can bring you scholarships to university, work as a coach or mentor in the community, and an overall balance in your life! The long term gain far out weights the short term results of a minimum wage part time job. 

Next, we hear an issue with regards to cultural differences. When speaking to a group of 30 high school girls in Winnipeg, girls were telling us that they felt awkward having to be the only person wearing a Hijab underneath their basketball or volleyball uniform. At a time in their lives where they want to blend in, this could bring attention to them they do not want. And it is not an issue of lack of cultural pride, but rather the sports not thinking about cultural norms that they may need to adjust to. 

Lastly, is a sense of belonging. The number one thing that girls look for when being involved in sport and activity is that they feel a part of something. Be it a team, a club, an organization. They yearn for this feeling of togetherness, acceptance and inclusion. Without that, it doesn’t matter how much they are winning or losing, they are not going to be fully engaged. That is something that everyone needs to ban together on to make it work – coaches, parents, teammates and themselves. 

At Fit Communications and FIT Women and Girls we are doing our best to help tear these blockades down for girls in Canada. From our Confidence Workbook, to our FITGirls Directory to the work we do in the media, we are in constant pursuit to make things terrific for girls in our country. Our goal is to have increased participation rates for girls in sport, and to see the future of our country happy and healthy. Thanks for joining us on this journey! 

Basketball, Synchro and More!

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87% of Canadian medal winners from the 2016 Rio Summer Olympics were women. Let’s be honest – our women KILLED it this year! One of the top six reasons for girls in Winnipeg dropping out of sports by the age of 14 is due to a lack of positive female sport role models. Other reasons include issues with safety and transportation, cost, lack of access or options, social stigma attached to being a girl in sport (think ‘tomboy’) and decreased quality experience. By the Rio showcase, it is apparent that this can be fixed if we put the right energy and resources towards sport.

This tremendous showcase by our Olympic team has provided girls and women across Canada numerous role models in sport to look up to and inspire them to achieve their goals. Whether your dreams are to stand tall on an Olympic podium or to simply try a new activity, there are tons of great options for girls in Winnipeg. In this week’s blog we look at three activities and sports for girls in our city to try.

AthELITEs & Beyond Basketball Program:

AthELITEs and Beyond Camps aim to allow young athletes to benefit from the instruction of skilled university and provincial basketball team players. They will be taught the fundamentals of basketball and play games suited to their age and skill level. Whether the athlete is a beginner or advanced player, AthELITEs and Beyond will challenge them to improve their basketball skills in a fun and energetic learning environment. Two Fall camps are available – September 15 – October 6 and September 11 – October 2. For more information or to register your child, contact Taneesha Greaves at 204.583.2697.

Synchronized Swimming:

Winnipeg Synchro (www.WinnipegSynchro.mb.ca) and Aquatica Synchro Club (www.aquaticasynchro.com) have introductory programs for girls ages 5 and up, including programs for teens new to the sport. A fun, fresh learning environment that combines the creativity of dance, the cardio of swimming and develops strength, flexibility and teamwork. Allison Gervais, one of the Founders of Fit Communications, swam nationally and internationally in synchronized swimming. To this day she is still involved from a judging and volunteer perspective. The sport brought so many incredible things to her life that she has managed to take with her into her present day. From time management skills to team work ability to knowing the value of hard work, this sport brought her tremendous learning and experience.

Fitness Journal for Girls

The Fitness Journal for Girls is aimed at girls ages 5 – 15, which provides girls with coupons/offers on 20 different sport and activities in Winnipeg. From kickboxing to gymnastics to synchronized swimming to basketball, there is something for all girls to try. The Journal allows girls to try new sports and activities they perhaps didn’t know where available to them, all at a free or discount price. It allows girls to join a community of healthy activity, have tons of fun and motivate each other through positive action. There are many activities in the Journal that parents can do with their kids, and many moms have found it to be a great source of bonding for mom and daughter time. It is more than just sports, it’s a movement. More information on this city-wide initiative to get girls more active can be found here – www.FitCommunications.ca/FitnessJournalForGirls

We would love to have you as part of our community! Sign up for our newsletter here and find out about more great health and fitness initiatives happening in Winnipeg.

 

 

 

Kickboxing For Women & Children in Need

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Martial Arts has been a part of my life since I was six years old. As a young girl in a heavily dominated male sport, I learned from an early age that girls can do everything and anything just as well, and sometimes even better, than boys. I learned that being true to who I was and what I wanted to do was immensely important. I learned how to utilize every muscle of my body for a purpose – whether I was doing sweep kicks, round houses or mastering a few form or weapon, I was gaining confidence. I truly attribute much of my self-confidence today to my life in Martial Arts. In such, at Fit Communications we love supporting girls and women in sport, especially combat sports. We are proud to partner with Winnipeg Kickboxing and Muay Thai on their upcoming fundraising initiative.

On July 19, 2016, Winnipeg Kickboxing & Muay Thai, located at 1777 Portage Avenue, will open their kickboxing school doors for a fundraiser in support of the Fort Garry Women’s Resource Centre (FGWRC). Two, one-hour open classes will take place, the first one at 4:30pm followed by the second at 5:30pm. All drop-in fees for this class will do directly to support the FGWRC.

The Fort Garry Women’s Resource Centre is a not-for-profit, feminist organization supporting women to engage in healthy life choices for themselves and their families through innovative and responsive programming and excellence in service. Fort Garry Women’s Resource Centre is committed to creating a community where women and children are safe, healthy, valued and empowered.

Trisha Sammons, two-time Canadian kickboxing champion and now Head Coach of Winnipeg Kickboxing and Muay Thai, wanted to bring a different type of fitness class to Winnipegers while supporting the FGWRC. “Kickboxing is not only a great workout, but it allows people of all ages and fitness levels to get fit, learn self-defense, increase self-esteem and have a ton of fun while doing it,” Sammons says. “At Winnipeg Kickboxing we provide a fun, safe environment for people to workout, and felt there was a strong tie to the FGWRC with their mission of safety and health for women and children in our city.”

Event Details:

Where: Winnipeg Kickboxing & Muay Thai, 1777 Portage Avenue, Winnipeg

When: Tuesday, July 19, 2016. 4:30pm and 5:30pm (each one hour classes)

What: Beginners kickboxing class open to all women, men and children in Winnipeg

Cost: By donation only. Suggested donation $10 per person

For more information or to sign up, join the movement on Facebook – https://www.facebook.com/events/1086578908096878/

Media:

Winnipeg Free Press

Team Canada’s Archery Coach – Joan McDonald

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With less than seventy days until the 2016 Summer Olympic Games, I had the absolute pleasure to interview Joan McDonald – Team Canada’s National Recurve Coach for the sport of Archery. At the age of 73 Joan will be attending her 6th Olympic Games as a Coach, and honestly has me more enlightened about sport for women in Canada than ever before.

Joan started her coaching career when she was still a competitive international athlete in the sport. Helping the younger or less experienced athletes she trained with on a daily basis. In 1985 she officially retired from competition, and in 1991 began to think of herself as a coach. Until 2015 when Joan was appointed, there was not a national coach for archery. Throughout her time as an athlete she had numerous mentors to look up to and learn from including Ken Archer Brown, Clarence Shred and Dick Tone. In fact, today she works along side Dick Tone coaching the female archery athlete heading to Rio in August.

Joan really opened my eyes to how one can learn, and in turn, become a better coach when she spoke about her current mentors in sport. Often coaches look to those with more experience or perhaps to coaches who have produced exceptional athletes. But when asked about her mentors today, Joan said ‘I learn most from the experiences with other sports high performance coaches, such as Andy Higgins from track and field or my learning opportunities at the National Coaching Institute or seminars run by Own The Podium coaches and High Performance Directors.” While Joan notes she takes every chance to attend such opportunities, in Canada there are far from enough.

At the 2012 Olympics, only 11% of coaches were female. Joan attributes much of this issue in Canada to a lack of a set path shown or provided to up and coming female coaches. Moreover, Joan notes, “No matter how much we improve for worldwide women’s rights, there are still some things that don’t change. We are still raising the families of the world and most having to work full time on top of it”.

Not identifying a clear path for coaching combined with a lack of female mentors or role models in coaching is making this career a difficult one to choose. Moreover, Joan says, “If Canada puts a pile of money into one athlete, we get one athlete. If we put a pile of money into one coach, we get unlimited athletes.” The combination of increased salaries and coach development opportunities are a must for Canada to continue to develop strong athletes who are successful internationally and at the Olympic Games.

The Olympic Games is a fairly small tournament for the sport of archery in terms of athlete participation. Sixty-four men and sixty-four women compete. In fact, Canada has not sent a full team to compete, rather single athletes only, since 1996. Joan is quite confident these Games might be different. For the first time in 20 years, Team Canada might send a men’s team to shoot as well as one-woman shooter.

The training regime for Canada’s archery team is different than any other sport I know. The team trains five to six days per week, twice a day. Their morning routine consists of the physical training including cardiovascular and weight training, as well as sport psychology, nutrition and other non-sport specific training. The afternoon session is on the range where they are often hoping for bad weather. A windy or rainy day is excellent training conditions. In fact, the only weather condition that will ever stop a tournament is lightening, otherwise, the competition will always go on. For Joan’s team, it is imperative to be able to shoot with immense accuracy no matter the weather conditions.

Leading up to the Games Joan is really excited! When asked what excites her most about the Olympic Games she answered, “Everything! It is the greatest show on earth! I get to work with the best people on the planet!” Staying focused and having a day-to-day itemized plan while in Rio will be a key point to her team’s success.

This excitement carries over to her love for the sport. Joan finds herself inspired every day by her team. Seeing people improving, getting people out of their comfort zones and seeing them feel excited about their achievements is what she lives for. In fact, her greatest successes as a coach have had nothing to do with high performance. Joan sometimes works with athletes who have mental disabilities. “To see them do things they never thought they could do and be called successful, then to see their parents see this too…this is success as a coach for me.”

Joan is the type of coach I want to have around me and the young girls in my family. Although I only had the chance to talk with her for one hour, I could sense her ability to help girls feel confident in their own skin and in their abilities as both an athlete and as a human being. Her grace and wisdom as a coach was a true honor to listen to and learn from. I want to wish Joan and the entire Team Canada Archery Team the very best of luck on the 2016 Summer Olympics!

If you enjoyed this blog, read more from Fit Communications on sport here.