Creating a great sporting environment for women and girls
Thursday, December 12, 2019
In June 2019 we brought together leading industry professionals at a BOP Sport Forum to talk about how we support women and girls in sport.
Presenters at the forum include high performance sports physiotherapist Jacinta Horan, psychologist Mariane Wray, Black Ferns Sevens development manager Belinda Muller and coaching officer Trudi Kemp. Black Ferns Sevens assistant coach Cory Sweeney also attended as a panellist during a Q+A session, alongside athlete Mariah Ririnui and international hockey official Kelly Hudson.
The forum theme – Effective approaches to working with women and girls in sport - was an overdue conversation says Horan, who works with female athletes ranging from teenagers to elite adults as part of her practice at Bureta Physiotherapy. Horan is also a member of the newly established Women’s Health in Sport – a Performance Advantage (WHISPA) group under High Performance Sport New Zealand.
“What we know about training, coaching, injury prevention and athlete wellbeing has typically been drawn from decades of studying males playing sport,” explains Horan.
“But a ‘one size fits all’ approach can fail to take into account the best and most effective approaches for working with women and girls in sport.”
Horan points to adolescents as an example: “From an injury perspective, girls and boys are similar up until puberty, yet post-puberty our physiological differences come into play. Young females experience earlier and faster growth, and different post-puberty strength gains and hormonal effects, compared to boys.
“In some cases, girls may not have the same access to quality sport specific warm-up and strength and conditioning programmes as their male counterparts, which can all lead to increased injury rates in adolescent females if we make ill-informed decisions.”
Dave Clarke, coaching and sporting development team leader at Sport Bay of Plenty, says improving the sporting environment for women and girls also requires a conscious effort to create a great all-round experience in sport that supports women and girls.
“Historically, coaches and team managers are more likely to have worked with men or boys. Nowadays though we’re seeing more women and girls in sport, which is fantastic, but as coaches and managers we need to catch up and examine how we have operated and if this is conducive to creating an environment that is really enjoyable for women and girls in sport.”
Clarke, a former national squash coach with over 30 years’ experience coaching top-level males and females, says this includes understanding why athletes may respond differently to various coaching styles or stress and anxiety in a sporting context.
“Ultimately we want more females in the region to take part in sport, and have a fantastic experience that makes them want to stay and then pass on their love of sport to the next generation.
“The BOP Sport Forum was a great opportunity to have that discussion and to support local coaches, team managers, athletes and parents with insights and understanding about how they can build a great sporting environment for women and girls. “
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