| 50% of females stop playing competitive sports at 15. Why?
What it Takes to Play
When an athlete hits the pointy end of their high school years, they are hit with the inevitable choice; do well in school, or risk it by continuing their sporting aspirations.
This challenge is amplified for women with few avenues to make a living wage through sport if this is the path they chose. Coaches lose star players at 15, those players not returning two years later after they finish school. Or if they do, they have hardly touched a ball and lost momentum in their career.
If these women had the opportunities of their male counterparts, would they have continued their push to succeed as an athlete, would they have been supported by their families more, or would they have chosen the same path?
50% of females stop playing competitive sports at 15. Why?
Let’s now consider the lack of early years pathways in many sports. The years of around 12-13 where girls and boys can no longer compete in the same competitions is where we lose the first chunk of our girls’ participation. Growing up, there was no competition for me to play in for many sports between 13 and 18.
This has somewhat improved in recent years; however, they still lack support and drive from quality coaches, organisations, media and sponsorship. After all, why would you bother if there was no chance for future success and return on investment?
It is critical for all sporting codes to invest heavily in these developmental years. This investment will ensure future success of any code who takes this advice at national and international competition levels.
Recipe for Success
There is proof in the pudding. We now see the talented youth coming through in Australian Football (AFL), and the quality and professionalism of the AFLW increasing dramatically. These girls coming through now have had the chance to aspire to be their idols, have their posters on their walls, and see a pathway to achieve their dreams. They will now be the next generation of players to have fans of all ages.
Because of this, coaches are now seeing the value in coaching women’s teams, local sports clubs are finding more funding in their budget to provide the women with strength and conditioning support similar to that of the men’s, and sponsors are coming forward to support.
The keys to success:
· Pathways between 13-18 years old
· Quality coaching support in development years
· Increased strength and conditioning for local sports clubs’ youth and senior women’s teams
| This is the way forward.
All sporting codes around the world must listen and learn from this showcase of success in driving women’s sport.
Founder of Onside Sports Podcast