Thinking about a return to sport?
Your first thought should be about women and girls.
There are many elements to sport, not just the men’s senior team. While a return to competition may be a little while off, the organisation required to get your men’s team or junior boys teams up and running will happen – don’t panic, they’ll be fine.
The focus of community sport right now should be less about what the fixture might look like and how the playing field can be levelled for women and girls at your club.
This includes seeking frank and fearless feedback from parents, players and club members about the perceived importance of women and girls at your club, their role and how best to ensure they are supported to thrive, not just survive. (Thanks Dr Bridie O’Donnell for these epic words of wisdom!)
Focus on how your club supports girls and women on and off the field/pitch/court and when your club is open for business, how you can ensure that everyone who has run around your oval or walked past your pavilion during lock down knows there is a place for them to be involved.
Unless girls feel like they belong to the club and valued by the people that run it, they will go and play somewhere else with their friends, because being with their friends trumps club loyalty.
To make it easy, here are three steps your club can take right now to focus on women and girls, to ensure you have a club to belong to on the other side of COVID 19:
1. Remember why girls and women play sport, to have fun, to make new friends and to be social (not always focus on competition.) What opportunity are you offering women and girls to return to your club? Is it at the most suitable time and location? If not, why not? Think about how multicultural girls and women are represented and being supported at your club.
2. Review the club’s social media, if you only scroll three times down the club’s social media pages, how many posts do you see relating to opportunities for women and girls? If you can’t see a post, what impression does that leave on a prospective player/parent?
3. Empower their hero – profile the girl’s coach on social media, ask a well-loved senior player to share a video with the junior players. Where possible make sure this person is around the group to boost confidence and help the girls flourish and feel valued by the club.
One more thing…..is it risky to think parents will naturally send their girls to/back to sport? Absolutely!
Your role to reassure parents is more important now than ever, reminding them that girls learn important life lessons such as teamwork, confidence, body movement and resilience through sport and of course they can make new friends and have fun while being physically active. Consider how the club communicates with parents (of boys and girls) about what is being done to create a safe environment for their kids.
More info can also be found on the Active Moreland website. Highly recommend spending 36min 59sec watching ABC Reporter Paul Kennedy and Dr Bridie O’Donnell talking about the importance of community connections Post COVID-19 (click here).
Female Sport Participation Officer
City of Moreland and This World Can online forum facilitator