Inspirational sporting females
As I sat down to watch Naomi Osaka play against Petra Kivitova in the women’s Australian Open final, I told my daughter how Kivitova was given only a 10% chance of playing tennis again after an attack left her needing surgery on her hand. Daisy commented on her resilience – a word they use a lot at her school. Naomi’s exciting triumph of that final has meant that at the age of just 21, she is now number one in the world. As we watched these two women battle it out on court, I considered what an inspiration both of them are – the resilience, determination and passion is something that I hope my own daughter will aspire to.
For many, a lack of confidence, the pressures of school work and a negative body image attitude are major contributing factors. It is imperative that we change the mind-set of these young women and allow them to realise that through sport, women can be empowered. If we can instil in young women the importance of participating in sporting activities at a young age and encourage them to continue, we can somehow redress the balance between men and women in sport.
As I discussed this with our recently appointed Head of Education, Clare, she said that in her 11 years of teaching the BTEC Sport in other establishments, she had never seen such an equal split of male and female students than on the current Rockley BTEC Level 3 Sport course. She said that "to get even five in a class would have been unprecedented" and put this largely down to the strong, positive female role models that Rockley has - from our Managing Director, Pip Woods to the females who managed four of our six centres in 2018. This however has not always been the case. On our very first BTEC course there were only two females out of 30 students and it has only really been in the last few years where we have seen a more equal intake.
Over my 20 years of working for Rockley we have always tried to encourage equality in the activities and work opportunities we provide. Now it feels we are at a point where we have an equal mix of female and male children who come on our school trips, students on our BTEC L3 Sport course and both seasonal and full-time staff. I find this incredibly refreshing in a society where males tend to dominate when it comes to sport and physical activity.
When my daughter put her name down to join the after-school rugby club and found herself to be the only girl, instead of giving up, she actively recruited a few more girls to get involved. She is also a member of the school girls football team who are competing in numerous competitive events and who are currently enjoying the same kind of success as the boys' team.
Equally, when my 7 year old son was invited to join the after-school netball club he was well and truly up for it! This was largely due to the fact that we had watched the England netball team triumph so spectacularly at the Commonwealth Games - (one of the most exciting and best pieces of sport I’ve seen) He absolutely loves rugby and football and didn’t even question whether netball was considered a ‘girls sport’. He was just excited to be taking part in another competitive sport.
It feels good that my children belong to a learning environment that not only sees the value of physical activity but actively encourages young boys and girls to take part in ALL sports. It is so important that we tap into this desire for girls to participate in sport and create an environment where young women can continue to grow in confidence.