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In recent times, women in football have made huge strides forward. Not only was 2022 the first year a female football player featured on the cover of the popular FIFA 23 Ultimate Edition, but the Lionesses gripped the nation as they won the EURO 2022 tournament. Now, in the lead-up to the Women’s FIFA World Cup, momentum is starting to build once again.
Considering this, it’s shocking that only 63% of girls have the opportunity to play football in PE lessons growing up. The Lionesses themselves had to play on boys teams in the absence of any girls teams.
Whether we like it or not, girls’ experience of sport is different to boys’. Not only are different sports available for girls in primary school, but they are often led to believe that they are not as skilled at sports as boys are. Youth Sports Trust has found that, by the time they get to high school, more than a third of girls in England and Wales will stop playing sports regularly.
In order to encourage more girls to participate in football and other sports, we asked the question, should boys and girls play on the same sports teams in primary school? Or are girl-only sports teams the best option to create a safe environment for girls to get active?
In our report, we explore this question as well as why it’s so important to encourage a lifelong love of sports in girls. We talk about the impact of the Lionesses’ EURO tournament win, and include some practical ways that both schools and parents can encourage participation.
Momentum is starting to build
Efforts to improve equality are underway in the sporting world, from the Olympics to the legacy of the Lionesses’ historic Euro 2022 win.
Boys and girls can learn from each other
Giving children more opportunities to play in mixed teams will raise the physical level of girls and the communication of boys, improving the skills of both.
Girls and boys aren’t as physically different as we might expect, especially at primary school.
Some players compete in sport for recreational or social reasons. Others want to progress and excel in the sport. It should be down to each child’s personal discretion.
The psychological factor
Schools can help to erode psychological barriers which may be faced by students during PE class. Stereotypes need to be challenged for any pervasive narrative to be dismantled.
Tips for parents
Parents can play a vital role in promoting the belief that all sports are for all children.
All about FUN!
If sporting experiences aren’t engaging and fun, children won’t engage, irrespective of gender. All physical activity – be it PE lessons, after-school clubs or competitions – should have fun and enjoyment at their heart.
Sport comes with a raft of physical and mental health benefits, and while there is a sharpened focus on improving sporting participation amongst children, there is a rising wave of dissatisfaction that boys’ and girls’ experiences of physical activity are not equal.
This has called into question the relevance of girl-only sports teams and how effective they are. Especially since rising awareness of gender diversity has increased calls for a more flexible, gender-neutral approach to sports and PE.
So how important are girl-only sports teams? And do they have a place in today’s world?
Does your child LOVE football and the upcoming World Cup but is stuck indoors?
Print out our activity pack – full of fun activities inspired by women’s football and the world cup. Including a printable wall chart to follow along.
We understand that primary school teachers are pulled in all directions – and fostering an inclusive atmosphere in PE classes is just one of many important tasks to consider.
However, here at Premier Education, it’s what we do best. Our coaches are trained in creating a safe environment for primary school students to engage in a range of activities and develop a lifelong love of sports.
Whether it’s in PE classes or after school extracurricular activities, we can offer an inclusive environment for girls to play sports.