After winning a silver medal at the Tokyo Olympic Games, Rayssa Leal (13 years old), claimed she never listened to those people who told her that skate wasn’t a sport for girls.
The Woman Post | Catalina Mejía Pizano
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This statement portrays one of the obstacles that adolescent girls have to overcome when they wish to continue participating in sports after puberty.
The loss of motivation for teenage girls can come from different sources. In the first place, it may originate from comments such as the one mentioned by Rayssa Leal. However, it may also come from the fact that most trainers are males. If girls constantly witness that their trainers tend to be males, this can lead them to the false belief that sports are for boys.
Pilar Calvo, who is the General Secretary of Women’s Professional Sports Association, invites people to reflect upon one of the most important concerns of the World Health Organization, which is the preoccupying rate at which adolescent females tend to abandon. A study named BasketGirkz that was conducted by the Spanish Basketball Federation, Endesa, and the Sports Council investigated some of the causes that could be leading many adolescent girls to quit their participation in Basketball.
The mentioned study revealed that the transition from primary to secondary school at ages 12 to 13, is one of the most critical ages at which girls usually quit participating in sports. Almost 6% of boys abandon sports at this range and 13% of girls. However, the age at which girls more frequently stop participating in sports is 16 to 18. According to a study by San Joan Deu Hospital, Barcelona, 7 of every 10 girls abandon sports when they turn 18.
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By why do girls tend to abandon sports when they become adolescents? The BasketGirkz Project found that four main reasons explained why female adolescents tend to quit sports participation. The first one being time management, followed by lack of motivation, family reasons, and gender inequality. When girls become teenagers, several activities start to displace sports participation and family also begins to play a role in keeping girls motivated. Hence the support of family members as well as coaches becomes even more important during adolescence.
Pilar Calvo has also claimed that the world is missing female role models who make important decisions in sports. For instance, more female organizers and coaches are needed to help motivate girls and to make sports seem attractive for girls.
However, this argument is not new, since the Mapfre Foundation along with University Carlo Rey Juan Carlos has also published a study named “Young Women and Physical Activity” that had already revealed that girls regard sports differently and that they a lot about the social component of physical activity. It also showed that girls are less competitive than boys. One of the most interesting findings of the study was that girls have less motivation to participate in sports since they perceive that society supports women the least when it comes to sports.
These findings represent a unique opportunity to reflect on how to reverse the trend of female adolescents abandoning sports. It is no longer a secret that the world needs more females in important sports positions such as women coaches, judges, referees, presidents of clubs or federations. We need women involved in these positions since teenage girls may abandon sports due to a false belief that they won’t be able to make a living out of a career in sports.