A recent survey has found that the number of girls aged 13-18 who frequently participate in sport outside of PE lessons has decreased significantly in recent years. Produced by the charity Women In Sport, the ‘Reframing Sport for Teenage Girls’ survey concluded that just 10% of girls aged 13-16 achieve the recommended levels of physical activity of one hour per day, ultimately having a negative impact on both the emotional and physical wellbeing of teenage girls.


It is vital to uncover the reasons behind this decline and to explore the barriers preventing girls from experiencing the wealth of opportunities and benefits of participating in sport.


An 18 year old girl from South West London stated that the main reason for this was that ‘all your friends stop so you stop’, adding that she was ‘influenced by [her] peers’. She went on to say that she would feel more comfortable engaging in a stereotypically feminine sport such as netball due to the fact that she ‘has more people to look up to’, highlighting the evident need for female role models in sport.  Young girls are inspired to participate and play competitively when they can feel represented and have female role models competing at a high level.


A 16 year old girl from Kingston who represents her county in cricket and takes part in a number of different sports stated that she thinks more teenage girls should get involved in sport because ‘it’s a great way to relax, and I feel a sense of accomplishment when I perform well. I have also met some of my favourite people through our shared interests’. She went on to develop on her experience as a girl competing at a high level in a male-dominated sport, adding how she often felt ‘scrutinised and judged to see if I am as good as the boys’, and was sometimes ‘ridiculed’ by her male teammates as their captain. 


The pressure for teenage girls to prove their ability when competing in sports which are stereotypically masculine is very high, evident in the recent statistic from a survey conducted by the BBC claiming that 30% of all professional sports women have been abused by social media trolls at some point in their career. These attitudes create an atmosphere of shame and mockery surrounding female athletes, resulting in an overall lack of participation. 


Recent campaigns such as ‘This Girl Can’ have targeted schools and youth centres around the country, providing opportunities for female-only sports clubs.  More of these campaigns are needed to help drive increased participation and build foundations for the future of girls in sport.