Jill Scott discusses why almost a third of girls drop out of sports before their late teens
October 28, 2023
Since the exhilarating summer of 2023 when the world was captivated by the Women’s World Cup, piggybacking off the success and popularity of the Euro Championship in 2022, women’s football has embarked on an unprecedented journey of growth and transformation. The roar of the crowds, the electrifying goals, and the remarkable performances on the global stage ignited a newfound enthusiasm for the sport among fans and aspiring players alike. In this article, we delve into the remarkable surge in popularity of women’s football post-World Cup, while shedding light on the pivotal developments, or lack there of, at the grassroots level which have caused some girls to leave the sport they enjoy so much.
Last month our very own Mary Tryphona’s Omonia Youth FC U13 Tigers girls team met with Jill Scott, who was part of the England team who won the UEFA Women’s Euro Championship in 2022, to have a kick-about as well as to talk about some of the pressures affecting young women today and why nearly a third of girls will quit football by the time they’re in their late teens – that’s compared to just 10% of boys! [Starling Bank]
Members of the U13 Tigers, Xenia Tryphona and Elysia Kyriacou, took to asking the Euros winner questions discussing the issues facing young girls today in sport, particularly regarding age, body image and other social aspects.
During the interview, Scott mentioned a period early in her career where she desperately tried to gain weight after being criticised for being too skinny. She also went on to denounce the insufficient facilities available in the women’s game at grassroots level, claiming that making small changes at this level such as providing girls with free, matching kits that fit properly could have a substantial impact on how girls felt while playing. She recalled, “When I was younger we used to get the men’s hand-me-down kits, or at the end of each season we would get a bag of kit that they had worn for the year … Obviously it doesn’t fit, it’s too big and discoloured.
“I remember putting on my first Boldon Girls kit and just feeling like I belonged to something, like I was part of something. We know that some families struggle and that’s why uniforms were invented so kids don’t get bullied for having different clothes to somebody else, so I think kit is so important,” she said. [The Guardian]
Scott has collaborated with Starling Bank for its “Kick On” football initiative to help to grow girls’ football by giving schools and grassroots clubs free sponsored kits, equipment and coaching vouchers.
She said: “Starling’s motto is ‘we need to get girls on the pitch, but we need to get girls to stay on the pitch as well’, and I think that’s a really important one. When I look at dropout rates, with more girls dropping out of football than boys, that makes us sad because potentially you could be stopping the journey of a future Lioness”. [The Guardian]
When asked by our young Tigers, what advice she would give to girls who feel like they can’t carry on with football, Scott responded “if they really love it and it’s what they want to do, just be brave enough to step out onto that pitch. Everybody has dreams and you don’t want to give up on that dream because you could be a future Lioness, but even being out in the fresh air with your friends – it’s such a great sport to be involved in – so keep going girls, everybody’s behind you, and if you are struggling, speak to someone”.
If you or someone you know has been affected by any of the topics in this article, please speak to someone, or even offer a shoulder to lean on, and in serious cases get professional help.
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Written by Ali Emir - Sat 28 Oct 2023