The Benefits of Sports For Girls Go Far Beyond the Playing Field
by Anna-Lesa Calvert
*Anna-Lesa Calvert is the Executive Director of Algonquin Sports for Kids, Inc. She has been a long-time supporter of Western New York Girls in Sports, a United Way program that empowers young girls through the power of sports. We asked her why she thinks sports can make such a big difference in the lvies of young women.
In my world, everyone knows why girls should be playing sports. The benefits are immeasurable for girls who play.
- High school girls who play sports are less likely to be involved in an unintended pregnancy; more likely to get better grades in school and more likely to graduate than girls who do not play sports. (credit Women’s Sports Foundation)
- Girls and women who play sports have higher levels of confidence and self-esteem and lower levels of depression. (credit Women’s Sports Foundation)
- Girls and women who play sports have a more positive body image and experience higher states of psychological well-being than girls and women who do not play sports. (credit Women’s Sports Foundation)
- 65% of the most powerful women in business played sports. (credit Forbes Magazine)
For me, as a girl, none of the above statistics mattered however. Soccer was my place to let go, to learn, to grow, and to strive to be better. I knew the scores of every game I played in. I knew what my team needed to do at each tournament to move forward. I relished in the fact that my teammates looked to me for that information- that was how I led. That taught me that I could lead my teammates and guide our understanding of how we could control our destiny on the field. I also learned on the field that although there were times I wanted nothing more than for my coach to take me off of the field because I was struggling- perhaps in skill or in my mental fitness- that sometimes you just have to push through the struggle. You have to stay and support everyone around you even when you don’t want to anymore.
The list of the things I learned could go on and on. Everything I mentioned could contribute to the statistics above in some way, but I was more than a statistics and I think it’s the intangible benefits that really hit home for me.
Sports are so valuable to every young child and giving girls the opportunity to play allows them another chance to learn something about themselves- to learn to be fearless. To learn how to lead. To learn to sit through the struggle and know they are a part of something bigger than just themselves. Every girl can take away something important when they play, we just need to give them the chance and a safe place to learn and grow.