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Girls sport in the spotlight

By schoolsportmag2, Sep 15 2021 11:36AM

Sherborne Girls School is hosting a conference on September 22, addressing issues that are of particular relevance to female athletes and their coaches.

In collaboration with the online female sports community The Well, the event is part of a growing movement to improve the experience of girls and young women in sport.

The conference will host more than 200 girls aged 13-19 who may be aspiring to, or already be involved in performance pathways, as well as PE teachers, coaches and sport directors who have a shared interest in addressing issues relating to female performance, participation and enjoyment of sport.

Topics will include:

• Puberty: what happens to a girl’s body and mind

• Breast health and pelvic floor dysfunction in athletes

• Optimising training and performing through the menstrual cycle

• Sports Bras: ensuring girls have the right type and fit of sports bra

• Under-fuelling and/or over-training (RED-S)

• Developing injury resilience in female athletes

• The female filter: facilities and culture

During adolescence, girls are having to manage the physical, psychological and emotional changes that puberty brings, and this happens over several years and can present significant barriers to sport.

And while these topics are covered within PSHEE lessons, The Well aims to educate girls, and those who support them, on how we can apply that learning to enhance the way we teach girls sport and physical activity.

Dr Bella Smith, Women’s Health Specialist and GP for The Well said, “We would like every girl to leave the Sport in Her Shoes conference with a greater understanding of their own bodies and how the practical application of that knowledge can give them the confidence to achieve what they are capable of.”

Dr Emma Ross, former Lead Physiologist at the English Institute of Sport and scientist for The Well explained: “Girls drop out of sport at twice the rate of boys. A staggering 64% of girls will have quit sport by the age of finishing puberty (16-17).

“Barriers to participation include periods, breast development, body confidence, poor body literacy, a skill deficit and not finding activities that are enjoyable.

“We can do something about all of these and there is a distinct lack of support and advice, particularly in relation to sport and exercise and girls often feel unprepared and vulnerable. We want to change this and the Sport in Her Shoes Conference is a great start.”

Jayne Dart, director of sport at Sherborne Girls, added: “It is an enormous privilege to be working with The Well who are an inspirational team of women, with credible experience and a powerful message to share.

“At Sherborne Girls we feel we are at the forefront of a movement that has the potential to transform the experience girls have in sport and by opening this conference to schools across the south west we hope to share that knowledge as widely as possible.”