Focus on the Gender Debate in Sports

For many years there was a gender separation in sports participation from adulthood down to children and school sports. Male sports were football, rugby and cricket; Female sports were netball and rounders; and both
genders played hockey and athletics but separately. Over the years this outdated approach has changed with boys and girls encouraged to participate in all sports and to embrace the skills that are so transferable between the sports. The genders were kept apart even though they were playing the same sports, with little interaction or mixed gender teams. In recent times there has been a greater call for boys and girls of all ages to participate in mixed gender competitions where practical and possible. Some sports lend themselves to this more easily than others. In the local Somerset Cricket League, there have often been female cricketers taking wickets and scoring runs. Former England wicketkeeper, Sarah Taylor, played second XI cricket for Sussex and recently, at an ISA cricket competition held at Lords, history was made as Rugby School pupil Maia Bouchier became the first girl to play there as a member of a school’s first XI. At Springmead we encourage boys and girls to participate in all sports and, as physical differences are generally very minimal until puberty, participate in mixed gender groups. There are always some exceptions and we always take individual circumstances into consideration. In the last academic year, we had success at the Somerset School Games with both hockey (1st place) and rounders (3rd place). Both competitions were mixed gender and required minimum numbers of boys and girls participating. Both tournaments were hotly contested with teams qualifying from feeder tournaments across the county. In PE lessons children are taught in mixed age groups, same age groups, mixed gender groups and same gender groups, depending on the requirements of the lesson and the children involved. We also have a variety of sports clubs that are open to both genders to participate in. The one exception to this is the girl’s football club that we introduced last year. After discussion with a large group of UKS2 girls who argued that they did not have the same opportunities to play football and felt they were not experienced enough to join the football club that was dominated by boys, it was decided to offer a girls only football club. This club has seen the uptake of members increase and as a direct result more girls are playing football with the boys in the playground. Afterall, equality isn’t just treating everyone with the same hand; it’s ensuring everyone is given the same opportunities.

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