This is the era for youth to shine in Indian Sports. Sania Mirza, Ashwini Ponnappa, Jwala Gutta, Geeta Singh are all Stars of this generation of young women achievers. Achievement in any sport whether it's its wrestling, cricket, badminton or athletes. They push girls to believe that anything is possible. So naturally young girls from the tender age of 5 and 6 years enrol for gruelling hours in after school private clubs or group sessions to start their sporting journey. No sport is easy and the hours are long and practice sessions are undoubtedly montonous.
It was never going to be easy. Who doesn't want the best for their Kids? Nowadays, parents make it for matches, cheering along the sidelines, offering advice and even find some bonding time with the coaches. But is this enough to keep interests levels vigoured and high? This is a serious investment of time and money.
Not necessarily enough. Is it burnout or just no longer 'Fun' anymore. For most girls, something changes at the age of 12. By age 14, girls are dropping out of sports at two times the rate of boys. (Pls see here Girls drop-out at different rates depending on where they live. Sabo, D. and Veliz, P. (2008). Go Out and Play Youth Sports in America. )
Of course Girls as much as boys, need to stay in Sports, for the same exact reasons. Whether its building leadership qualities, team spirit, or confidence levels, how they view themselves, improve School grades etc there are many good enough reasons for kids to stay active and find their passion. It has always been a great way for Girls to form friendships outside of their own school.
Lets see some of the reasons why Girls lose interest in Sports.
Lack of Physical Education in School or access to physical playing facilities can be a major disadvantage when it comes to girls pursuing their sports sessions.
There is also the social stigma. Bullying and social isolation are all important contributors to kids dropping out.
As they grow older and move from Junior under 12s to Junior Under 13s, quality trained coaches may also be lacking due to less focus on that age group and the attention shifting to older boys where there is better funding. This is the reality in Sports today.
Another major influence for girls dropping out is the social media factor. Beauty is set by different standards and fitting into moulds are a struggle with the added pressure of playing sports and keeping it all together.
Are there enough positive female playing stars that model and inspire our young girls? As the environment gets highly competitive and there are some of the major Social and emotional changes that 11 and 12-year-olds experience that predispose them to abrupt and hasty decisions to quit sports. Do we have the Internet to blame for the way things are changing? Between the ages of 13 and 17, 92% of teens report being online every day and 24 percent are online almost constantly. As teenagers, their priorities change from who they socialize with and how they spend their time.
The question is then how to get Girls to continue playing Sports?
Unfortunately, there is no easy, one answer fixes all, in this scenario. Being aware of these battles and the territories is important when dealing with young impressionable minds but giving them the space to grow and not pressurizing them too much is critical here. We do not want to create a negative connotation when it comes to Sports. Discussing why sports is crucial to their overall development, discovering a sport they truly passionate about or just going along with their friends to a sports practice session will be a good way to get back in.