More than one million teenage girls in the UK, who once considered themselves ‘sporty’, have disengaged from sport following primary school.
The finding comes from research by Women in Sport, which surveyed 4,000 teenagers and gauged the way they engage with sport and physical activity. It found 43 per cent of teenage girls who once actively engaged with and enjoyed sport were being side-lined in their teenage years and made to feel not good enough.
Among the most common reasons for disengaged with sport amog those surveyed were a fear of feeling judged by others (68 per cent), lack of confidence (61 per cent), pressures of schoolwork (47 per cent) and not feeling safe outside (43 per cent).
Stephanie Hilborne, Women in Sport CEO, said: “We must bust the myth that teenage girls drop out of sport simply because their priorities change. Our research has found that 59 per cent of teenage girls who used to be sporty like competitive sport, but they’re being failed due to early years stereotyping, inadequate opportunities and a complete dearth of knowledge about managing female puberty.
“Teenage girls are not voluntarily leaving sport, they are being pushed out as a consequence of deep-rooted gender stereotypes. We must all do more to reverse this trend and not continue to accept this as inevitable. No-one should be excluded from the joy, fulfilment and lifelong benefits of sport and exercise.”
The charity is calling for the sport, leisure and education sectors to work harder to prevent teenage girls from gradually disengaging from sport, particularly in the transition from primary to secondary school and during puberty. Activity offerings need to be reframed to cater for the changing needs of girls and make them feel they deserve to play, whatever their level of ability.