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Why We Support Sport for Girls

Pic: Daily Mail
We at The Kick Project take girls playing sport very seriously. We reckon both girls and boys can gain significant benefits playing organised sports. Increasing the numbers of girls in sport, in particular, is a vital goal for the well-being and health of not only the feminine half of the population, but to all society as a whole.

While we respect all cultures, we are often disappointed that some cultures frown on women and girls playing - or even watching - sport. Our position is that we respectfully disagree with that position.

But part of the problem we - and other like-minded organisations - face, is that there are too few positives to point to, even if the seemingly "liberal" western world.

One case which has come to prominence lately has been here in our home country of Australia.

Australian Example

The Australian women's football (soccer) team, known as The Matildas recently went on strike, refusing to play unless better pay and conditions were forthcoming. As this radio documentary outlines, comparing the support offered by the Football Federation of Australia to the men's national team and the women's team sees that the infrastructure is offensively, and obviously, weighted towards the men's team.

This is despite the fact that the women's team far out performs the men's team in results, and is ranked higher on FIFA world rankings.

It's a disgrace for this country, where sports is a passion and national teams are seen as heroes. But, this kind of prejudice is sadly replicated in many other, seemingly liberated, countries.

The effect of this is to put up barriers for girls and women seeking to access sport activities. Poor support from national bodies only sets up a self-perpetuating loop of limited facilities, little media coverage (including too few women sports journalists) and few if any role models for girls and women to follow and be inspired by.

Such outcomes appear to fly in the face of logic. The benefits of girls and women playing sport should be obvious and largely the same as they are for boys and men; camaraderie, social skills, exercise, motivation, self -improvement, character building....the list goes on.
Pic: Mideastsoccer

A report from the Women's Sports Foundation, started by tennis great Billie Jean King, gives some insight into the specific benefits of girls and women having fair and equitable access to sport.

For instance, "As little as four hours of exercise a week may reduce a teenage girl’s risk of breast cancer by up to 60%."

Insulting Imagery

When the FIFA Women's World Cup was held in Canada earlier this year, we ran a Google search on images for the event. What we found was distressing. There were as many images of scantily clad women as there were of football players. Some images were near R-rated.

While we don't need to make a statement on sexuality here, we do find it perplexing that women's sport so often descends into a sexualised ogle-fest, rather than a celebration of women of skill and commitment representing themselves and their countries on the world stage.

We wonder what are girls to make of this? We would suggest we can provide a better example than this to our collective daughters.

It is for these reasons that we are committed to finding ways, even in communities where girls playing sport is considered taboo, to develop culturally appropriate means of improving access and increasing acceptance.

Sometimes, it's one-step-back-two-steps-forward dance. But we think the effort is worth it. For the girls, their communities and, for all of us.


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