Team sport so beneficial for women, why are they dropping out so early?

31 July 2017

A study by Lidl Ireland revealed that playing team sports helps women build a strong set of life skills, like better mental well-being, dealing with pressure and self-confidence.

A new study commissioned by Lidl Ireland demonstrates a worrying trend affecting the health and well-being of young women and girls in Ireland.

Research proves that team sports have a direct and positive effect on self-confidence and mental wellbeing.

Yet 1 in 2 young women give up team sports completely by the age of 13.

Serious hard work and dedication should never go unnoticed. In fact, at Lidl, we think it deserves serious support in return. We know that for women’s sport this is often overlooked, but we want to change this.

By committing to a three year sponsorship with LGFA, we not only want to give women in sport the recognition they deserve, we want to encourage all women to get involved and stay involved. After all, hard work pays off, and we’re passionate that sporting women should be rewarded and celebrated for theirs. That’s why we’ve invested €2.5 million in our sponsorship to date in Ladies Gaelic Football.

Team sports build so much more than teams. They build a solid foundation for the future. We wanted to understand this a bit more, so we asked Irish women of all ages questions no one had asked them before.

We spoke to women all over Ireland about life, sport and what it means to them. Our independently commissioned research, used both qualitative and quantitative approaches to get a broad view of these women’s attitudes. Our study is the first of its kind in Ireland and offers fresh new insights into something that we, at Lidl feel really passionate about.

Our study has revealed that playing team sports helps women build a strong set of life skills, like better mental well-being, dealing with pressure and self-confidence. But unfortunately, half of young women drop out of team sports by the beginning of secondary school.

The research has found that 1 in 2 girls will drop out sport before the age of 13, despite this high dropout level, 64% of women would agree that girls are more likely to achieve their full potential by playing a team sport.

Almost 2 out of 3 girls report experiencing peer pressure every day and that pressure to look a certain way accounts for almost 3/4 of all peer pressure. The research shows that girls that play sport have better tools to help them cope with this pressure. Girls that play sport report having better body confidence and mental wellbeing than girls that don’t play sport.

There is also a disparity in the encouragement given to boys and girls when it comes to playing sport and when it comes to continuing to play sport- 71% of girls agreed that girls are more likely to give up sport because they are not encouraged as much as their male counterpart. 56% of men report being strongly encouraged to play sport v 36% of women.

Amongst the key findings of the research are the following:

  • Girls that play sport report a higher body confidence.
  • Girls that play sport report better mental wellbeing (80% of girls who played sports rated their metal well-being at a score of 7-10 vs 67% of girls that don’t play sport)

Girls that play sport report feeling less depressed, less lonely, happier and more supported (0% of girls that play sport report feeling lonely daily, 10% of those that don’t play sport do report feeling lonely daily)

  • Women that play sport report greater body confidence (51% women who play sport rated their body confidence 7-10, compared to 32% of women who don’t play sport)
  • Greater mental well-being (70% of women who play sport rated their mental well-being 7-10, compared to 52% of women who don’t play sport)
  • Greater ability to cope with pressure in life (73% of women who play sport rated their ability to cope with pressure in life vs 50% women who don’t play sport)
  • Women that play sport report feeling more inspired, less overwhelmed and less depressed
    Inspired Daily: Women play sports 20%, don’t play sports 6%
    Overwhelmed Weekly: 13% vs 26%
    Depressed every so often: 13% vs 27%

When presented with a list of female celebrities and asked who they would most like to be the most popular answer was Emma Watson followed by Kendall Jenner and Saoirse Ronan in third place. Girls who played sport rated Irish sports stars Annalise Murphy and Katie Taylor higher than those that don’t but neither reached the top 3.

The research took place between June 5th and June 13th 2017 and the respondents were not aware that the research was being commissioned by Lidl. The research concentrated on three key groups; Girls 12-17yrs (Sample size of n=159), Parents of Girls aged 12-17yrs (Sample size of n=155), Adults aged 18-44yrs (sample size n=500).

Speaking about the Lidl Commissioned Research Lidl’s Strategy and Insights manager, Linda Fitzgerald, said “Since we partnered with the Ladies Gaelic Football Association in 2016 we realised that a lot of people speak about young Irish girls leaving sport but nobody has ever definitively established why?

“As part of our #serioussupport of women’s sport we decided to answer that question and, through working with Spark, we have developed some data that is extremely interesting and eye opening.

“We now know, for instance, that girls leave sport during the early years in secondary school and by establishing this information, along with the many other findings in this report, we are now in a position to help the Ladies Gaelic Football Association, and all women’s sports organisations and that is why we in Lidl have invested €2.5m to date in women’s sport.

“We hope that as a result of this research that we can continue to have the positive impact that we have delivered through our #serioussupport to date and help to encourage more Irish women to stay in sport.”

Lidl (with our creative agency Chemistry) spoke with students about many of the issues that the research has established and their responses can be seen here www.lidl.ie/serioussupport.




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