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Big Kids

02nd Aug 2017

What EVERY parent of pre-teen girls needs to know about sport

Katie Mythen-Lynch

Brought to you by Lidl.

“I never let myself feel like I was good enough to keep playing.”

Those are the troubling words of a young woman speaking about how she regrets quitting team sport.

Chatting to the camera as part of an eye-opening video produced by Lidl, the student’s face brightens as she remembers the joys of hitting the pitch for practice and match days, the camaraderie of the game. Then a sad look washes over her as she explains that a lack of confidence led to her decision to give it up.

And she’s not alone.

A new piece of research by Lidl, conducted as part of their #SERIOUSSUPPORT campaign for Ladies Gaelic Football, reveals some worrying trends. Despite the evidence that team sports improve everything from fitness to mental health, by age 13, one in two girls will have given up sport completely.

Why sport is important for girls?

The health benefits aside, there are countless other reasons why playing team sport is beneficial to children and teenagers of both genders, but there are some particularly important perks for girls.

For instance, girls that play sport reporting having better body confidence and mental well-being. Girls that don’t play sport rating own body confidence much lower.

Girls that play sport report being happier, more supported and being less lonely and less depressed. Women that play sport report feeling much more inspired, prouder, less left out and less overwhelmed.

So, why do girls give up sport as they get older?

The research shows that peer pressure is the key issue girls need to work against. Almost two in three girls report experiencing peer pressure. Pressure to look a certain way is the most commonly experienced – accounting for almost three quarters of all peer pressure. Even adult women who don’t play sport report higher incidences of pressure to look a certain way.

Women give up sport earlier than men – at the start of secondary school as opposed to college. A total of 46 percent of girls gave up sport because their friends weren’t playing while 17 percent felt that it was more important to do well in school.

A huge 76 percent of women agree that girls give up sport as they are not as encouraged as their male counterparts. A revealing 72 percent of girls agree. Mothers of daughters that play sport are also more likely to agree that girls are not encouraged as much.

Why your support matters

For adults, women report receiving less encouragement when it came to sport as they grew up, while more men report their father, team mates and friends all encouraged them.

The Lidl research clearly shows that mothers are the key encouragers for girls. While the majority of adults said there was nobody in their family or friend circle who strongly encouraged them not to give up sport, these days things have clearly changed. 67 percent of Irish girls aged between 12 and 17 said their mother was on hand to support them when they considered quitting sport, with 53 percent of young women saying their dad was there to encourage them into staying on the team.

How can I support my daughter’s involvement in sport and exercise?

The take-away? Your daughter needs you in her corner to support and encourage her to stay involved in sport. In the words of one of the young women in Lidl’s latest video, “It teaches you discipline, it teaches you how to focus, it teaches you how to want something and succeed.”

Who wouldn’t want their girl to have a piece of that?


By the age of 13, one in two young women drop out of sport. They are three times more likely to drop out than boys.

Lidl want more Irish women to stay in sport. That’s why they have invested €2.5m to date in women’s sport. Continue reading here.

Join the Conversation: #SeriousSupport