The importance of sport for young people
Our 'sport for all' ethos helps shape the way we approach physical education for our students. With recent research* suggesting that girls lose interest in sport when they leave primary school, our mantra is more important than ever, reinforcing our efforts to ensure all girls at St Mary’s have the opportunity to participate in sport. Whether students want to join an extra-curricular club or participate in competitive sports – we offer something for everyone, regardless of ability and/or interest.
Everyone now knows the important role sports can play in our physical and mental wellbeing, but the benefits run even deeper, particularly for young people. There are a whole host of positive effects that sport can have on a child’s life. From developing social skills and teamwork, to leadership and discipline, there can be real life lessons learnt through playing sport.
Louise Powell, Director of Sport at St Mary’s explains more:
“Sport has the ability to positively influence everyone's physical, social, and mental wellbeing. The link between sport and physical health is obvious, but the social and mental health benefits are almost more prominent when it comes to an educational setting. Social sport can help children make new friends, feel part of a team, and teach them important social skills that can be transferred to the classroom, our wider school community and society as a whole. Our girls learn through physical education, and games lessons, to work together as a team, the importance of communication and listening skills, and how sport can help people gain a sense of belonging.
“We recently asked our Year 11 sports scholars why they thought sport was so important and it was evident from their responses that it really matters to them as young women. Partly, they love the thrill of participation. However, they also relish the teamwork, the sense of self-confidence and the other life skills that participation helps them to develop. Several of the scholars talked of the life-long friends that they have made through the intensive hours of sports training and building those relationships up over time through shared goals and passions. Team spirit is also something they savour.
“One of our elite rowers described the joy experienced when things go well and the sheer physicality of feeling the boat balance correctly and the water running under it. Others described the wonderful sensation of winning a match or a tournament after hours of preparation.
“Conversely, our pupils also understand that sport can offer great lessons when things don’t always go their way. One student reflected on the mutual comfort generated within sports teams when a result was disappointing or frustrating. She also said this experience can help students overcome obstacles, learn resilience, and give them the skills they need to pick themselves up and deal with challenges, head-on.”
Physical Education is an integral part of our curriculum at St Mary’s and students have access to coaching expertise in a range of sports, including hockey, dance, and netball. Whatever their interest, our girls can pursue sports that they are passionate about, supported by our specialist teachers.
Our state-of-the-art sports facilities at Long Road have helped to greatly enhance our sports provisions. These include a 3G rugby and football pitch, artificial all-weather pitches for hockey, netball and tennis courts, athletics facilities, a grass pitch for football, as well as cricket nets.
Sport continues to go from strength to strength at St Mary’s with several sporting achievements under our belts in recent months. We celebrate these successes with popular annual events including our Dance Showcase, Gymnastics Display, and Sports Award Dinner. All of which helps to positively shine a spotlight on the achievements that our girls have made in sport.
An area that has recently exceeded expectations is rowing, with many of our pupils now competing at a national level. At the start of May, our rowers achieved excellent results at the National Junior Scullery at Eton Dorney. The team was also recently recognised by the British Rowing Affiliation, opening up a wealth of new opportunities for them at a competitive level.
Learn more about sport at St Mary’s.
*Research undertaken by Women In Sport: https://www.womeninsport.org/press-release/more-than-1-million-teenage-girls-fall-out-of-love-with-sport/