The number of girls and young women dropping out of sport has motivated one Ardee woman to try and address what she feels is a major problem.
Mother of two Jessica Myles has organised a meeting - ‘Keeping Girls in Sport’ - to address the issue at Ardee Parish Centre on Thursday, 16th November, 3.30pm to 6.30pm
A number of clubs in Meath have expressed an interest in sending a representative to the meeting which it is hoped will provide further insight into how to keep girls involved in sport. There are expected to be representatives from a wide variety of sports in attendance at the meeting including Gaelic football, soccer, rugby, archery and athletics.
“The meeting is really for the clubs it’s not just for the girls, it’s getting the clubs to talk as well. There’s a broad acknowledgement that there is an issue out there but there’s very little done about it,” says Myles who is a full-time mother as well as a coach of girls rugby teams in Ardee. She also plays Gaelic football and is a runner.
“My girls teams have struggled week after week. We have girls who show up then they leave a couple of weeks down the line, the challenge is getting girls to stay in sport,” adds Myles who says that at one stage 50 girls were involved in the rugby teams but now that has been reduced to about 25.
She says that among the reason why girls fall away from sports clubs is down to a range of issues including peer pressure and body image. A highly competitive environment can also be off-putting.
“If one girls leaves, three will follow. It also has something to do with body image and being watched. They may feel they don’t want to continue because there’s too much pressure within the club, there’s nothing drawing them back.”
Jessica Myles would like clubs to focus more on the beneficial effects of sport for girls such as improved health, how sport can be fun and make them feel better about themselves. “It can make you feel better if you’re going through a tough time, relieve pressure at exam time and make you feel better about your body.”
Among those who will be speaking at the ‘Keeping Girls in Sport’ meeting will be army personnel who will demonstrate drills that are fun to execute as well as experts who will be talking on health and fitness.