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Game on for girls’ cricket, footy and basketball

Susie O’Brien, April 26, 2021 7:00PM Herald Sun

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Basketballers (from left) Jazmin, 12, Arden, 11, Lia, 11, Stephanie, 11 and Melody, 11 at Eagle Stadium, Werribee, Victoria. Picture: Rebecca Michael media_cameraBasketballers (from left) Jazmin, 12, Arden, 11, Lia, 11, Stephanie, 11 and Melody, 11 at Eagle Stadium, Werribee, Victoria. Picture: Rebecca Michael

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Girls are more game than ever to play club sports traditionally played by boys, including cricket, footy and basketball, new research shows.

A study of more than five million sporting participation records shows 34,000 more girls aged five to 14 are playing these sports.

It coincides* with a drop of 15,000 boys the same age playing sport between 2015 and 2019.

The research, by Victoria and Federation Universities, shows girls’ participation in sport was up five per cent for all age groups.

Experts put the increase down to increased visibility* of professional women’s sporting teams and standout star athletes as well as a big push by peak bodies.

Lead researcher Professor Rochelle Eime said it was “great to see that the policies*, strategies* and investments* are working”.

2021 AFLW Grand Final - Adelaide v Brisbane media_cameraAshleigh Woodland of the Crows tackled by Kate Lutkins of the Lions during the AFLW Grand Final match between the Adelaide Crows and the Brisbane Lions at Adelaide Oval on April 17, 2021 in Adelaide, SA. Picture: Getty Images

AusPlay data from the Australian Sports Commission shows 63 per cent of kids participate in sport outside school hours at least once a week and 25 per cent play sport at least three times a week. Most popular sports are swimming, soccer, Aussie rules, dancing and gymnastics.

But Gen Simmons, president of Women Sport Australia, said female athletes often played second fiddle* to the boys in terms of facilities*.

“Often the presidents of the clubs are men who are more interested in boys’ sports,” she said. “And they get first dibs* on schedules, coaches and facilities.”

“Often girls playing traditionally boys’ sports do not have change rooms and bathrooms and have to get changed in the toilet or a cupboard,” Ms Simmons said.

The research, funded by VicHealth and Sport and Recreation Victoria, showed the growth of girls’ sport was especially strong in regional Victoria, where three quarters of girls aged ten to 14 play community sport.

VicHealth’s health promotion operations manager Maya Rivis said that “being active at a young age helps girls develop healthy habits for life, but they continue to face greater barriers to playing sport than men and boys”.

“We must continue to work with Victorian sports clubs and other grassroots* organisations to reduce barriers to physical activity for girls, regardless of their culture, ability and location to get active, have fun and connect with others,” Ms Rivis said.

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Vasso Apostolopoulos said her daughter Lia, 11, loved playing basketball for the Hoppers Crossing Tigers west of Melbourne, Victoria.

“She wants to play WNBL – it’s everything for her,” she said.

However, the Sanctuary Lakes mum and Professor of Immunology said she had noticed fewer girls play sport as they get older.

GLOSSARY

  • coincides: happens at the same time as
  • visibility: ability to be seen or noticed
  • policies: system of principles to guide decisions in the future
  • strategies: plans to achieve long-term goals
  • investments: money or effort put in now for future benefit
  • second fiddle: playing second in charge to someone else
  • first dibs: first go or first choice
  • grassroots: most basic level of something; in sport, this means community sport rather than professional level

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QUICK QUIZ

  1. What is the name of the journalist who wrote this story?
  2. Which two universities did this research?
  3. Which organisations paid for the research?
  4. How old is Lia?
  5. Which sport does Lia love playing?

LISTEN TO THIS STORY

CLASSROOM ACTIVITIES
1. Sport Survey
Design a survey to interview your classmates about the sports they play or are involved in after school. Ensure you get all the relevant sports for your class and break the information up into boys and girls.

Survey your classmates to collect the data on sports they play.

Present this data as a bar graph showing boy’s and girl’s participation in certain sports.

Looking at the bar graph, make 5 observations about the sporting activities of your class.

Time: allow 25 minutes to complete this activity
Curriculum links: english, mathematics, personal and social

2. Extension
As a girl what inspires you to want to play sport?

If you are male, ask the closest girl their thoughts on this topic.

Is there an idol, TV campaign or reason as to why they like this sport or became involved in sport because of someone they admire or a local campaign to get more girls playing sport?

If you’re not playing a sport, what’s something you might like to look into playing? Look up your local clubs.

Time: allow 10 minutes to complete this activity
Curriculum Links: English, Personal and social, Critical and creative thinking

VCOP ACTIVITY
Aside from this, there is also this!
Brackets are a great literacy tool for adding aside comments, or comments that could be covered over and the sentence still makes sense. What’s inside the brackets is extra information.

They can be used for a variety of effects: to add more detail, to add humour, to connect with the reader etc.

My little brother, (the funniest kid I know) got himself into big trouble today.

Select 3 sentences from the article to add an aside comment to using brackets. Think about not only what you want to add to the sentence, but also what effect you are trying to create.

Extra Reading in sport