Life is not easy and we always hope that we teach our kids how to deal with it, how to get up when you get knocked down, how to learn from mistakes, and how to stand up. Sports are a great way to teach these skills. I look back through my childhood, adolescence, young adult, until now... (age unidentified...). Sports have taught me so much and I couldn't be happier that my parents made sure I got all those lessons!
But, this may come as common sense to me. I love sports. I don't know what my life would be like without them... especially through those awkward teenage years where I doubted me and who I was. At least I had sports to identify me and feel strong about that. So many pressures.
Let me explain a bit more what sports can do, especially for girls:
* Strength and Health. I am not only talking about physical strength here. Emotional, mental are just as important and can be learned from sports. Health in general is better the more active we are all our lives. Feeling stronger, being healthier, develops a greater ownership and understanding of your body. This is so important, especially for girls, to own, cherish, take care of, and demand that it (your body) be respected.
* Critical life skills. What you learn in sports (teamwork, goal setting, resilience, communication, etc.) are all transferable to other parts of your life.
* Safe space. Sports can be a safe haven for kids, teens, everybody. It's a place to grow and explore, especially when considering physical, social and emotional development.
*Social support. This is a way to connect with peers. Adolescence comes with many challenges, social support from peers is a vital resource to help deal with these issues.
* Challenge the 'norm'. By participating in sports, especially for girls, you are learning to challenge the socio-cultural norms, the gender stereotypes at the community level and also in society at large. When girls play, they are passing the 'gender limits' set on females, which teaches them and allows them to continue in other areas of life, i.e. education and at work.
* Positive female role models. Having a female coach or team leader provides the girls with a mentor who is caring and supportive. This helps them navigate those adolescent years and create a vision of what is possible in their future.
* Human differences. We are NOT all the same. Sports allows us to explore those differences in class, race, caste, or religion. This helps promote mutual respect and a deeper understanding.
* Attention of the community. Playing in public for girls raises in an instant awareness/opportunity to advocate and stand up for their rights within the community. By girls participating in sports and bringing home victories, kits, and showing leadership positions, this can shift a girl's status within her community. First she may be perceived as a 'liability' and then seen as a source of PRIDE!
* Fun. Just having fun can be a sheer distraction from pressures of growing up. We all need to have fun. We are entitled to it.
And as Women Win (http://womenwin.org/work/strategy) says it best: "In short, wins on the field translate into wins off the field – One Win Leads to Another."
**This information was found and used from Women Win (http://womenwin.org/) **