Through sport and play, she can embody leadership and tackle gender norms.
Sport is an accelerator to leadership development. It provides girls with the opportunity to build their self-esteem, courage and self-efficacy. The ripple effect of the sports experience continues off the pitch and throughout life – athletes take the initiative, raise their voices and have the courage to take risks. When they fall, they get back up again.
Through sport and play, girls learn to challenge socio-cultural norms and gender stereotypes at the community level, and in society at large. When girls play, they transcend the gender limits set on females, building the muscles that allow them to do the same in other areas of life, such as in education and at work.
Through sport and play, adolescent girls and young women:
Become physically stronger and healthier and develop a greater ownership and understanding of their bodies. If a girl considers her body her own, she protects it, cherishes it, and demands that it be respected.
Develop critical life skills transferable to other spheres of life such as teamwork, goal setting, resilience and communication, all through the constant practise that sport requires.
Gain access to a safe space to grow and explore, especially with regard to physical, social and emotional development.
Connect with peers for social support - a vital reference point and resource for dealing with the challenges associated with adolescence.
Learn from a positive female role model in the form of a female coach or team leader. This provides girls with a caring, supportive mentor to help navigate adolescence and inspire a vision of what is possible.
Explore human differences and get connected to others from a different class, race, caste, or religion, which in turn can promote mutual respect and deeper understanding.
Capture the attention of the community. When girls play in public, they have an instant awareness-raising opportunity to advocate for their rights within the community. Victories, kits, and leadership positions can shift a girl’s status within her community – from being perceived as a liability to a source of pride.
Have fun. It’s so simple, but the sheer distraction from the pressures of growing up is an essential experience that we are all entitled to.