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Are Our Girls Quitting Sport at 15?

One in every two Australian girls are quitting sport by the age of 15 according to new research on teenage participation in sport.

Suncorp’s 2019 Australian Youth Confidence Report reveals that almost 50% of females in their late teens move away from their favourite sporting activities or ‘completely’ stop participating, compared to 30% of the boys surveyed.

Report author Rebecca Sparrow told The New Daily “close to 50% step away and in the lead up to that - between the ages of 11 to 17 - girls are playing nearly an hour less of sport during the week than teenage boys.”

Sparrow said her experience playing sport was sadly no different to what the study revealed.

She quit netball after playing in primary school and high school, rejoining a club to play social netball in her 20s. Sparrow advised “It happens gradually and when they finish school, half of the girls are just gone and we want to change that.

“There’s such a strong link between sport, the physical benefits of being active and from a mental health point of view, it can boost the confidence of teenage girls and women.”

The report seems in contrast to growing opportunities for girls and women to play sport - from far-flung country clubs to some of the most prestigious, elite professional women’s competitions.

Recent Roy Morgan Research shows that over 550,000 Australian women now play one of the four main football codes with rising participation in Australian football seeing the code reach 176,000 female players - a rise of 21,000 over the last year. This research also showed 398,000 Australian women playing football.

However, the Suncorp study, which included surveys of more than 1000 parents and teens, suggests urgent action is needed to increase girls’ participation.

Sparrow advised “certainly for girls, you can’t be what you can’t see.

“It’s brilliant to see so many amazing female (sports) role models, but it will take time to catch up.”

Female participation in organised sport is not the whole picture, and Australian research suggests girls are finding other ways to stay active.

A study by the Australian Sport Commission released in November 2017 found that while girls in their late teens may be stripping off their team colours, they are keeping busy with other forms of activity, such as training at the gym, fitness programs or simply walking.

The report found girls and women are also more active than boys and men when it comes to activity that can’t be classified under organised sport. Some 38% of girls between 15 and 17 years old participate in ‘non-sport-related activities’, compared to 36% of boys.

This fitness disparity between the genders also skyrockets when girls move into adulthood. Between the ages of 25 and 34 years old, 78% of women participate in non-sport-related activity, compared to just 56% of men.

Courtesy to Australasian Leisure for the above article.

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