Girls Too Ashamed Of Bodies
To Play Sports - Shower
Curtains Help?
By Richard Garner
A report out yesterday showed four out of 10 girls - around 250,000 a year - stop playing any games. And the simple addition of curtains in school showers could be enough to tempt many of them back to keeping fit, it was claimed.
Researchers from the Youth Sport Trust said one of the key reasons girls gave for giving up sport was low physical self-esteem.
This inevitably led to below average self-confidence throughout the rest of their schooldays, says the report, jointly published by the Trust and Nike UK.
The girls also blamed boys for sneering if they were sporty because they considered it "unfeminine".
Researchers said that girls who carried on with sporting activities were less likely to develop eating disorders, have unwanted pregnancies or get into abusive relationships.
That was because sport lifted them out of a spiral of depression and helped them concentrate on a more positive lifestyle, they said.
They called on schools and colleges to set up a wider range of sporting activities for girls - including non-team pursuits like dance and aerobics alongside hockey and netball. Former Olympic gold medallist Mary Peters, launching the report, said: "It is alarming that 40per cent drop out at 14. Those that continue to take up sport end up fitter, happier and healthier."
Dr Sue Campbell, chief executive of the Youth Sport Trust, said: "Many girls feel uncomfortable about themselves.
"There is a media image that being fit and strong means you are less feminine. It is important we help to dispel this myth."
She said that showering in front of others was also a major issue for girls. David Kirk, from Loughborough Univer-sity, who carried out the investigation, said: "If girls are humiliated if they do badly they're not going to continue."
And he added: "Maybe some schools would like to explore putting curtains in the showers to give them some more privacy."
AN immediate £500,000 grant to the Pre School Alliance to help head off the threatened closure of 1,700 playgroups this year was announced yesterday by Education Minister Margaret Hodge.