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Stop Black Women and Girls
Missing Out on Sports

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Stop Black Women and Girls Missing Out on Sport: A Call to Action

For many, sports offer a powerful path to personal growth, community, and physical well-being. Yet, concerning statistics reveal a troubling trend:

Black girls are participating in sports at a significantly lower rate than their white counterparts.

This not only diminishes the enriching experiences sports provide but also weakens the overall diversity of the sporting landscape.

The Numbers Don’t Lie

Sport England’s Active Lives Surveys paint a stark picture.

Only 36% of Black girls in England meet recommended activity levels, compared to 48% of white girls.

Even more alarming is the decline in enjoyment – a drop from 50% to just 39% of Black girls participating with joy in the past five years.

A Personal Story: Overcoming Barriers

Let’s explore this issue from the perspective of Shereen, a dedicated athlete and the People and Project Officer at Women in Sport.

Sports were her source of joy and a valuable learning ground throughout her school years.

However, as she transitioned to her teenage years, the landscape shifted.

Unlike her brothers, who enjoyed consistent access to sports activities, Shereen faced challenges finding a supportive environment.

Cultural stereotypes and lacking female role models made her hesitate to participate.

While she continued running, a sense of alienation crept in, and the joy she once associated with sports began to fade.

University, in a predominantly white community, further amplified this feeling of isolation.

Thankfully, after university, Sarah returned to athletics, highlighting the crucial role of supportive coaches and inclusive environments.

Why Are Black Girls Missing Out?

Several factors contribute to this decline:

  • Socioeconomic barriers: Financial limitations can restrict access to equipment, uniforms, and travel associated with organised sports.

  • Cultural stereotypes: Challenging societal perceptions that associate athleticism with masculinity is crucial.

  • Lack of representation: Seeing Black women excel in sports is a powerful motivator for young girls. The absence of role models in certain sports can create a barrier to entry.

Breaking Down the Barriers

Making sure all girls can enjoy sports requires everyone working together:

  • Sports organisations: Implement outreach programmes and create welcoming environments.

  • Parents and guardians: Encourage their daughters to explore sports, celebrate athleticism, and provide support to overcome hesitations.

  • Media: Showcase the achievements of Black female athletes and promote diverse sports teams.

The Power of Representation in sports inspires young girls to pursue their athletic dreams.

Media coverage highlighting their achievements is crucial for shaping perceptions and encouraging participation. 

Promoting more Black women in all aspects of sports, from athletes to coaches to administrators, is essential.

Creating Inclusive Spaces

Designing welcoming sports environments goes beyond just opening doors. 

It requires intentional efforts to cater to diverse needs. This includes offering culturally relevant programmes, ensuring access to facilities, and fostering a supportive community.

Building Confidence and Support

Programmes aimed at building self-esteem and confidence through sports can profoundly impact Black girls. 

Peer support networks can provide a valuable source of encouragement and belonging. Furthermore, it is crucial to ensure safe sports environments through clear protocols and support systems.

The Long-Term Benefits

The benefits of sports participation extend far beyond physical fitness. 

They include improved mental health, enhanced social skills, and increased academic and career opportunities. Sports teach valuable life skills such as teamwork, leadership, discipline, and resilience.

A Future Where All Girls Thrive

Innovation and collaboration are vital to creating a more inclusive future in sports.

Leveraging technology for online training programmes, developing new programmes that cater to diverse interests, and continuously assessing barriers are all essential steps.

By celebrating Black women in sports and creating welcoming spaces, we can empower all girls to experience athletics’ joy and transformative power.

Let’s rewrite the narrative and ensure no girl feels left on the sidelines. The future of sports is bright, and it deserves to be inclusive, diverse, and filled with the stories of Black girls who are empowered to claim their place on the field.

Source: Stop black women and girls missing out on sport.