Nadia Comaneci was the girl I wanted be. I first heard about her when I was a young gymnastic and the film about her perfect 10 soon became my anthem, my inspiration and she was my role model. In my teens I swapped gymnastics for a hockey stick and played my guts out. playing county, school and club hockey. This carried on until I started sixth form and I played less and less. My sticks became a prop in the garage which is something I deeply regret, like many girls I gradually stopped playing sport. Data from the most recent Always Confidence & Puberty Survey, shows that by the end of puberty, over half of girls surveyed (64%) will have quit playing sport. This has to change as we all know sport is important for raising self esteem and keeping us fit and healthy. I have written about girls in sport many times and shared the hockey injuries.
To help shed light on this issue, Always partnered with Academy Award-nominated documentary filmmaker Nanette Burstein to find out how girls feel about playing sport. The new #LikeAGirl video, asked girls about their athletic experiences, the challenges and the benefits, what helped them stay in the game, or what led them to quit. Hear their stories and be motivated by their passionate rallying call for all girls to keep playing by watching the Always Keep Playing #LikeAGirl video here:
My own girls enjoy sport and I am really pleased that Chloe especially (age 16) has no plans to stop playing hockey. In the past year she has given up dance lessons but only because she can’t fit them in due to hockey matches. Yet Chloe is not confined to one sport, she loves working out, she enjoys running and will have a go at anything active. Just last week Chloe and I have para-glided, canoed and swam together. However I know that she is now in a minority, thankfully she is in a minority with like minded girls who all enjoy sport. Her school has been instrumental in developing her with their sports programmes and the amazing PE teachers. She was identified early as being Gifted and Talented in sport and represented the school in many sports over the years. She was put on an elite pathway which included access to specialist coaches and mentoring over the years. She will again be on this pathway during A levels and has sport timetabled even though she will not be doing A Level sport.
British cycling star and Olympic gold medallist Laura Trott is partnering with Always #LikeAGirl to share her own story and encourage girls to keep playing sport. “For me, it’s about being a role model and trying to inspire girls not to give up. We all go through it, but puberty can be such challenging time for girls, you suddenly feel really self-conscious about lots of things and start thinking you can’t or shouldn’t do certain activities. I remember kids making fun of me for cycling and wearing a helmet and that would really knock my confidence. But playing sport taught me that by believing in myself, and never quitting, you can achieve great things,” said Laura.
“That’s why I am proud to be supporting the Always #LikeAGirl mission to help stop the drop in confidence girls experience at puberty. Sport really is one of the strongest confidence building activities and as a female athlete competing in the Olympic Games I want to encourage and inspire girls everywhere to keep playing #LikeAGirl and never quit.”
I asked Chloe which sports women she admired and she answered Beth Tweedle and the women’s GB Hockey team who won bronze in 2012 and was the first womens hockey medal in 20 years.
As a mum I have encouraged Chloe by being her taxi driver, watching her matches, asking her about sport and ensuring that she tried everything offered in order to find the sports that suits her. I encouraged her to try lots of things when younger to help her decide which ones she wanted to take up. I also made sure the school we sent her too for secondary had a great PE department. I do wish the children in state schools had the same opportunities as those in the private sector as we have realised that as she has progressed to elite levels that she is competing with those who play far more frequently than she does. The facilities at some of the top schools like Millfield is just amazing, but still Chloe has made her mark and hopefully found a sport for life! I am so pleased that Always asked me to support the campaign as it means so much to me to see girls playing in sport and enjoying it. I want girls to be positive I want Erin to follow in her sisters footsteps in whatever sport she chooses.