Like A Girl – getting to the core of activity and sport conference

A one-day conference to investigate why girls avoid ‘sport’ at school and frequently drop into inactivity. Understanding the root cause, exploring remedies that schools, clubs, NGBs and community providers can develop to attract and retain girls

Mid-November, University of Hertfordshire, College Lane, Hatfield, Hertfordshire AL10 9AB

  • What causes this disconnect, avoidance and drop out?
  • How can schools, clubs and NGBs overcome at an early age?
  • Is it just a case of P.E. v competitive sport?
  • Real stories and successes to be told, lessons to be learnt, ideas and experiences to be shared

 Have you got a great story to tell, then please get in touch?

The issues, challenges and opportunities for getting more girls more active…

Engaging and retaining girls in physical activity is a challenge – with many girls lacking confidence and fearing judgement. Yet, many young women ARE inspired and motivated, through being physically confident, understanding how to manage their bodies and carry this confidence into the rest of their lives.

If we are serious about the wellbeing and achievement of all women and girls in later life, then creating a culture in schools where girls’ active participation in PE and sport is the norm is essential. An understanding of why this diconnect occours and how it can be avoided is essential – not just for girls in sport – but girls throughout life.

It is mooted that fear of judgement in sport (via programmes such as #LIKEaGIRL) extends into other areas of life – right up to the ‘glass ceiling’. Resolving the ‘issues’ around competitive sport may hold the answers to a plethora of wider career, achievement and wellness/confidence issues in girls.

Community sports clubs and NGBs consequently face a number of challenges (and hence opportunities) when attracting and retaining girls. They need to become more understanding of the needs of girls and women and be more welcoming to newcomers, providing activities and facilities (hair straighteners?) that are appropriate to women and girls and not delivered in an immediately competitive manner.

Perhaps the answer is for Schools to rethink the PE / sport balance by introducing more control-based (as opposed to competitive-based) activity – such as dance, Zumba, aerobics, etc. alongside gymnastics etc. Why do many women choose to take these up later in life yet rarely get the chance to engage in more competitive sport once they understand how their bodies can work in a more confident and powerful manner?

Do PE departments, leisure centres and NGBs really understand why girls do ‘Throw LIKEaGIRL’ and what they can do to help overcome this . . . and transition more girls into competitive sport?

A conference presenting real stories and ‘need-to-know’ support

This is not a conference packed with policy presentations – but real anecdotal information and advice to really help delegates better understand why girls do ‘Throw LIKEaGIRL’ and how they might change their thinking about the relationship between, competitive sport, fitness and PE. We hope people will leave the event knowing they have heard some great practical ideas and having learnt how to make positive changes of their own.

This event highlights best practice and provides thoughts, tools and to-dos on how to get more girls to become more active.

Delegates will come from community sports clubs, governing bodies of sport, local authorities, community sports trusts, informal sports providers, community sports enterprises, sports governing bodies, community groups, volunteer organisations and other community sports providers.

Possible topics covered:

  • Sport v PE/Fitness – do schools use sport as a marketing tool – overlooking the importance of traditional PE to help girls better manage their bodies in competitive sport?
  • How do we coach girls to develop and manage a ‘powerful’ core – and still make it fun?
  • Why do girls ‘Throw like a girl’ – and what can / should be done about it?
  • Communicating with girls to engage – tone, manner, language. What’s the role of social media?
  • Growing a schools reputation through sport – the opportunities and pitfalls
  • Does sport (fitness & confidence) impact the ‘glass ceiling’?
  • How might an NGB see girls as an opportunity (to raise participation at grass roots – what innovative programmes are running?
  • How do we develop enthusiasm at the grass roots?
  • The importance of producing content including articles, video blogs, and interviews to promote the sessions to other girls in the school
  • How clubs could link to local schools and youth clubs to ensure that girls who enjoy the sport in other settings, feel comfortable in joining the club
  • How to co-create a programme of activity, driven by the girls and based on their thoughts and ideas about the physical activity that they want to do
  • Running taster sessions to introduce girls to appropriate classes
  • Should we be ‘coaching’ girls or ‘coaxing’ them?
    • How to develop family friendly clubs. This may mean that families can participate together, or separately in the knowledge that children are being engaged with positive activities
  • How to develop leadership skills in girls, through sport and physical activities

This is a joint initiative between The Women’s Sports Network ( and The Sports Marketing Network ( ) – If you would like to contribute to this conference – either steering its content, preparing a paper or engaging through sponsorship . . or simply want to learn more about the event/ register an interest in participating, please contact initially by email:

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