The retention of women and girls in sport and physical activity is challenging and complex, particularly for those who are more vulnerable. Entering adolescence, sport participation for girls drops by 22% and school sport participation drops to almost 26% (Canadian Lifestyles and Research Institute, 2013 and Solutions Research Group, 2014).
With support from Sport Canada’s Innovation Fund, Canadian Women & Sport and MLSE LaunchPad teamed up to run Game On - a sport leadership pilot program for girls aged 14-18. We wanted to know if a combination of leadership training and quality sport programming would increase girls’ intentions to stay in sport and pursue sport leadership roles in the future.
About the Process
Canadian Women & Sport and MLSE LaunchPad partnered in the design and delivery of the pilot project, which engaged a group of girls 14-18 years old who currently participate in sport but are facing barriers to sport participation and are at risk of leaving. The 6-week program, hosted at the MLSE LaunchPad facility in the Moss Park area of Toronto, focused on themes such as supporting my teammates, setting and achieving goals, being strong and confident, and having a coach who is a positive role model.
As part of the curriculum, the participants helped script a short video explaining the benefits of staying in sport.
What We Learned
88% of the participants reported that the program increased their desire and ability to be a leader in sport. The program was evaluated by a research team from Brock University led by Dr. Ken Lodewyk.
Canadian Women & Sport and MLSE LaunchPad produced an infographic and video documenting the project, the thoughts of the participants, and our biggest learnings.
The Future of Game On
The pilot demonstrated potential to become an effective program to promote retention of girls in sport.
MLSE LaunchPad is continuing to refine and evaluate the program in their facility as part of their commitment to girl-centered programming.
Canadian Women & Sport is currently exploring opportunities to test the program in different sport environments, with the intention of building a scalable curriculum that can be implemented in clubs across Canada.
What Can You Do to Help Keep Girls in The Game?
Everyone has the potential to help support girls to stay in sport. Here are a few resources about how to create sport environments that promote retention of girls and women:
- Actively Engaging Women and Girls: Addressing the Psycho-Social Factors – a supplement to the Long Term Development model that focuses on the impact of gender on sport participation.
- Keeping Girls In Sport – An E-module for coaches and activity leaders that addresses how to create safe and respectful environments for girls to participate in sport and physical activity.
- She Belongs – a new resource from Canadian Women & Sport about how to prioritize social belonging to encourage participation of girls when designing sport environments.