This week we are celebrating National Girls & Women in Sports Day on the ClubX Blog! Today’s post is written by BGCA Youth Trends Intern Sam Williams. Click here for Part 2!
The Super Bowl may have just passed, but there’s another important sports event on the horizon…
On February 6, 2019, join BGCA in celebrating National Girls & Women in Sports Day (NGWSD)! It’s a day to recognize female athletes of all ages and levels and encourage them to keep going.
When it started in 1987, NGWSD was an opportunity to bring national attention to female participation in sports. Since then, it’s expanded to raise awareness of the widespread benefits of sports and issues such as equality for women’s sports. This year’s theme, Lead Her Forward, showcases the ways that involvement in sports can push girls and women to achieve their best in athletics and in life.
Ways That Sports Can Have a Positive Influence on Girls
Research has shown that participation in sports has many benefits, including increasing physical, social, and mental well-being. Here are just a few of the key ways that sports can have a positive impact:
- Physical health – Maybe the most obvious, and definitely important. Sports can help girls stay active, which is good for long-term health and can help prevent issues such as obesity, diabetes and heart disease.
- Confidence – Sports can increase self-esteem for those who are natural athletes as well as those of us who may be just starting out. They offer an opportunity to learn new skills or improve existing talents. While the confidence may be built on the court or field, it often extends to other areas of life.
- Teamwork – Working with others is a must in sports. They teach the importance of communication and listening to others to achieve a common goal. Being part of a team can also provide a sense of community and friendship, especially for youth who may be naturally shy.
- Work Ethic – Sports require determination and practice. Even athletes who are naturally gifted need to work hard to stay on top of their game. Through involvement in sports, girls and women can learn to push themselves to set and achieve goals.
Club staff consistently see the positive effects sports can have on members. Sports and recreation programs are a fun way for Clubs to encourage physical activity and introduce youth to new activities. One example is a recent BGCA partnership with the NFL that brought flag football to over 400 Clubs! A few lucky members who showed exceptional commitment to the sport and overall Club participation had the opportunity to attend the 2019 NFL Pro Bowl in Orlando, Florida.
Isabella Vargas, 13, Boys & Girls Club of Garden Grove
When Isabella started at the Club in third grade, she was a shy, sporty girl. Now in eighth grade, she has become a leader and role model for other Club members. While she’s played soccer for years, Isabella recently joined the football and basketball teams at her Club, where she has excelled. To her teammates and coaches, she’s not only a skilled athlete, she’s a leader with the passion and motivation to help everyone around her. For Isabella, sports have given her a chance to try new things and step outside of her comfort zone. She has learned skills related to communication, goal setting and sportsmanship.
Diatriana DeWalt, 11, Boys & Girls Club of Metro Phoenix
Diatriana has always been an active member of the Club, participating in gym, art and STEM programs. This year, she joined the flag football team and instantly showed her dedication to the sport. She was actively engaged in all practices and games, and she worked with teammates and coaches to improve her understanding of various plays. Through her hard work, she developed her physical skills and transitioned from a defensive player to a wide receiver. Diatriana gained confidence on and off the field. While she started off timid, she became a social butterfly, establishing friendships and encouraging others during games. She is a great example for her teammates, and consistently demonstrates integrity and a positive attitude.
Lamesha Coney, 11, Boys & Girls Club of Metro Atlanta
As a member of the Club for four years, Lamesha has participated in a variety of activities, but her favorite place has been the gym. She is always willing to try new things, and this year she took part in cheer, basketball, soccer and flag football. Lamesha’s coaches have seen her come out of her shell to become a leader and urge other members to become active in the Club’s programs. She sets an example through her teamwork and sportsmanship, and she enjoys the social aspect of sports. Through flag football, Lamesha has made gains in her physical fitness and self-motivation.
How to Get Girls Involved in Sports at Your Club
Keeping girls interested in sports isn’t always easy. Girls may worry that a “sporty” image will keep them from fitting in. The fear of failing in front of their friends may also prevent girls from competing in sports. A Get Girls Active! guide from the Women’s Sports Foundation offers advice on how to talk to girls about sports and physical activity to help change these perceptions. Here are a few more tips on ways to get girls involved in your Club:
- Offer single-sex opportunities – Girls may feel more comfortable participating in gym or trying a new sport if boys aren’t around. Takeover Thursdays are a great way to set aside time and let girls “take over” the gym at the Club for a day. Click here to read more about a Club that established a similar program.
- Alternative participation – Give members a chance to help coach or referee to learn about another side of sports. This could drive interest for girls who are new to a sport and may not be comfortable playing right away. It could also be a way to keep existing players involved and give them a sense of leadership, not to mention the potential for job opportunities.
- Highlight successful female athletes – Members have plenty of role models to choose from when it comes to women in sports (the Williams sisters, Simone Biles, Alex Morgan, the list goes on!) Collect images of female sports figures to create a collage, or bring in an article about women’s athletics each week to share with Club members so they can be inspired by the achievements.
- Localize it – Role models don’t have to be superstars. Bring in female members of the community (high school/college athletes, coaches, P.E. teachers, etc.) to host a practice or talk to members about why sports are important to them and the opportunities they provide.
- Showcase team spirit – Show members why it’s fun to be a part of a team! Pair up teammates to create and exchange signs or posters to encourage each other and get excited for an upcoming game.
- Take a field trip – Let them see what’s possible in their own neighborhood. Organize an outing to watch a local high school, college or professional female sports team play. It’s not only a fun activity for Club members, it also shows support for local female athletes.
If you’re interested in starting a girls flag football league for your organization, we have the opportunity to provide some Clubs with free resources like jerseys, scoreboards, footballs, gloves, and free online coaches training. If you feel like your organization would be a good fit for this opportunity, please contact Eric Osborne (email@example.com) or Heather Campbell (firstname.lastname@example.org)