Photo credit: Jasmine Hirst

The Darebin Falcons know how important pathways and opportunities are for girls who want to play sports and love their experience.

The support and safety of a girls-only game. Getting a chance to play where it’s not all about physical size and competition. Having fun and finding friendship. Developing skills and confidence.

Getting muddy in the wet and embracing physical challenges that take them beyond society’s narrow view of how girls are expected to look and behave.

From the Falcons’ experience as a trailblazing club in women’s sport, it’s the shy kids, the late developers, the quieter ones and the smaller in size who might not get equal chances in mixed groups to learn how to play Aussie Rules football or soccer, then stay in the game.

That’s why we run a weekly girls-only Auskick in Darebin in the only regular session of its kind offered in metro Melbourne.

We also run a weekly girls-only Mini Roos Kick Off Program for 4 to 9 year-olds, where players are grouped with other girls their age in sessions that emphasise fun, games and skill development rather than competition.

Girls can then can progress from Kick Off to our Under 8, 9, 10 and 11 soccer teams in fixtured competition against other clubs.

Here we bring the player-centred approach to girls-only sports, where the player is at the heart of the environment. This form of coaching aims to know and understand each player as a person and the cultural influences and social circumstances that surround them.

The goal is for young children to have fun with sport and to learn, grow and develop through the game that mirrors the endless variety of life’s experiences – achievement, winning, loss, teamwork, pride, purpose, adaptability, overcoming adversity, and more.

The success of the AFL Women’s Competition, Matildas and Australian Women’s Cricket team has propelled women’s sport into the spotlight, along with the upcoming Women’s World Cup here and in New Zealand.

Research backs up the benefits of girls and women being active in sport and confirms that gender equality starts at the clubhouse:

  • sport and physical activity can boost girls’ and women’s self-esteem, self-worth, confidence and mental health
  • girls and women taking part in sport, especially traditionally masculine sports, challenge rigid gender norms and stereotypes
  • more girls want to take part and will be retained in football when they have opportunities to take part with other girls their own age.

A study published in The Journal of Sport and Social Issues looked at gender relations and gender equity in community sport from within clubrooms and shared spaces.

Want to learn more about the Inclusion and Diversity Programs at Darebin?