Sport participation offers girls in particular, many benefits. Through sport participation, girls learn to win and lose, acquire resilience and coping skills, learn to accept and appreciate their bodies, and meet others who share their interests. In addition, research indicates that girls who play sports do better in school as exercise is proven to improve learning, memory function, and concentration. Being part of a team teaches girls to work with and respect others. Active girls often discover just how beneficial physical activity and sport participation can be in managing stress, worry, or depression. These habits, developed and encouraged in childhood and youth, will often become healthy ones for life.
Two very different examples of women’s / girls’ basketball.
In game 2 of the WNBA Finals, Diana Taurasi scored eight of her 20 points in overtime, including a four-point play early in the extra period to put the Phoenix Mercury ahead, then another 3-pointer with 1:24 to play to break an 86-86 tie and to lead Phoenix to victory. The WNBA is an amazing demonstration of basketball being played at the highest level by remarkable athletes who are amongst the best basketball players in the world. The WNBA is in some respects a better demonstration of top level basketball than the NBA because there is more reliance on the team (rather than one or two players being the focus).
A few hours later, on court 1 at Mansfield High School on a Friday night in an Under 13 Div 3 game, a young girl catches the ball near the baseline. There is one player from the other team on her left, one on her right, and one in front of her. With the baseline behind her she is boxed in and she is frozen, not knowing what to do. She can’t see past the “ring” of opposition uniforms and doesn’t want to make a mistake and let her team down. The three girls from the other team are simply standing beside her. None of them are actively defending her and none try to take the ball away from her. The four girls stand there like statues for about 8 seconds (which seems like forever), until the ref blows his whistle.
The young girl from Under 13’s may not want to be Diana Taurasi. If she is having fun playing basketball, then that is the crucial starting point. No kid is going to want to keep doing a sport that they don’t enjoy. But this 12 year old girl probably doesn’t know who Diana Taurasi is. She may not know what is possible.
On of the big advantages boys have in sport is the visibility of role models. LeBron James, Steph Curry, and Luka Dončić adorn posters, have numerous YouTube clips, and their game highlights are covered daily by TV sports shows. Boys spend time in playgrounds and their backyards copying their shooting technique, imitating their dribbling moves and trying to be them. A role model is more than just a person you look up to and admire. It’s someone who can help you unlock your potential by showing you what’s possible and providing examples of how something can be done. Boys are following in the path already walked by many others before them.
For our girls, the path is hidden and they are left to find their own way – if indeed they are courageous and committed enough to try and make it.
Belmont Basketball Club would like to encourage our young girls to learn more about the game and perhaps identify their own roles models in the game. The Club is asking any of our young lady players to find out more about a particular women’s basketball player, from any competition, and prepare a short story or PowerPoint presentation or artwork that tells the Club about that player. The best one will get a prize and be shown off on our website and social media.
Responses can be sent to Melissa Parr at email@example.com