Girls need more confidence to coach, research shows

Data released today by children’s charity the Youth Sport Trust shows more than one in three girls have a desire to coach/lead in school but only a small number are currently taking up the opportunity.

The charity’s data taken from its Girls Active programme over the last two years is released ahead of the second Girls Active Coaches Camp which will give girls aged 15 to 17 the confidence and expertise to get their peers active.

Some of the key findings of 25,720 girls and boys revealed that while girls aged 11 to 18 have a strong desire to have coaching and leadership roles in sport and across their education, only 8% are coaches and 16% are leaders. The research shows that girls who do take on coaching roles are happier and more body confident.

Ali Oliver, Chief Executive of the Youth Sport Trust, said:

We want every girl to have the opportunity to take part in the life-changing benefits of play and sport and to reiterate that sport is not just for the elite, it can be for everyone.

Too few girls are taking up coaching and leadership roles in sport, but as our research shows this is not due to a lack of appetite.

“To tackle the gender gap in sport, it’s so important that we open up opportunities for more girls and young women to lead in sport, whether that’s as a coach, leader or helping to promote the benefits of physical activity to their peers.

“We know that self-confidence can be a barrier for girls in terms of taking part in physical activity and sport so this weekend we will give almost 150 girls from across the country the opportunity to learn coaching skills, develop their confidence, learn to be powerful activators and support girls just like them across the country to enjoy being active.”

The Girls Active Coaches Camp is delivered in partnership with This Girl Can, Loughborough University, Women in Sport, with funding from Sport England National Lottery Funding. It will also have support from a host of National Governing Bodies to celebrate all that sport can do in giving young people opportunities across their lifetime and careers.

The charity’s research has been broken down into the roles girls are most likely to take when in PE, playing sport and getting active. The findings show that:

Coaches – girls described as supporting/motivating peers to get active

  • 8% of girls currently have coaching roles inside or outside of school (compared to 11% of boys)
  • 34% of girls would like to be a coach either inside or outside of school

Leaders – girls described as those who directly lead active sessions

  • 16% of girls currently have leadership roles inside or outside of school (compared to 22% of boys)
  • 44% of girls have a desire to be leaders – especially inside of school (compared to 43% of boys)

Admin – girls described as promoting events and helping to organise activities

  • 9% of girls have an admin role in school (compared to 12% of boys)
  • 33% of girls would like to have admin / organiser roles either inside or outside school

Girls who were coaches, leaders or admin support had higher levels of body confidence, overall confidence and happiness.

Melanie Marshall, who is a former British swimmer and now coaches Adam Peaty, is one of the role models the girls will work with across the Girls Active Coaches Camp. She said:

We need to address the under representation of female role models in coaching and leadership roles for girls with the idea of if they can see it they can be it. I want to see more girls owning their confidence, skills and most importantly their futures, it’s great to see the Youth Sport Trust giving girls opportunities and skills through the Girls Active Coaches Camp - we need more initiatives like this.

The camp is part of Youth Sport Trust’s work to increase the opportunities and support available to Girls as coaches and activators. Working through Youth Sport Trust Leadership, Coaching and Volunteering Schools, there are 50 Academies across the country targeting around 25 girls in young coach/activator academies where they are provided with training, deployment and mentoring. Attendees at the national camp will have been supported locally, providing a next step on their journey.

Heather Smith, Associate Head of Innovation at Women in Sport, said:

The latest Girls Active survey has shown there is a huge demand from girls to become coaches and leaders in and outside of school. However, girls are still falling behind boys when it comes to actually taking on those roles. The Girls Active Coaches Camp is a great opportunity to equip these girls with the confidence and experience they need to become role models and leaders.

The Youth Sport Trust will be publishing its full research findings from Girls Active across the past two years looking at primary and secondary aged girls’ relationships with getting active and the barriers they may face in summer 2019.

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Published on 5 April 2019