Soccer is on the rise in Canada. According to Soccer Canada, last year there were one million registered Canada Soccer players, playing in 1,200 clubs over 13 provinces and territories, which is a 20% increase in players from 2016. (1)
At HappyFeet, we are delighted to see more youngsters wanting to play the beautiful game. We want to make our program as inclusive as possible so that everyone has the opportunity to be a soccer star. Nevertheless, some parents with young daughters may have reservations about registering them for soccer classes because of an outdated stereotype that soccer is a “boys sport”. This is simply not true! In the 2020 Tokyo Olympics, 4.4 million Canadians watched the Canada Women's team beat Sweden to take home gold. (2) The well-profiled success of the Canada Women’s team proves that Canada is producing some fantastic female soccer players, which is inspiring more girls to play the sport.
We know we may be biased, but we truly believe soccer is the perfect sport for young girls.
In soccer, the rules are straightforward, and the objective is clear: score more goals than the other team - and don’t use your hands! This means that new players can become comfortable quickly with the sport and find enjoyment in lessons without any prior experience.
Soccer also requires minimal equipment and set up, making it an accessible sport for most families, and more viable than some other sports for those with financial barriers. All you need is a ball, perhaps a couple of sweaters for goalposts, and you're good to go.
Children have an inherent need to play, and most of the time this play takes the form of physical activity. When children exercise, their brain creates dopamine which causes them to smile or laugh with joy. (3) Playing sports at a young age lays the foundation for forming a lifelong healthy enjoyment of fitness, which is hugely beneficial for long term health. (4)
Soccer is physically demanding and requires players to run, jump, kick, and change direction frequently. These high-intensity impact movements have been proven to increase a players bone density which can reduce the likelihood of developing osteoporosis, a disease far more common in women than in men. (5)(6) Playing soccer will help young girls develop cardiovascular endurance, physical strength, speed, agility, and coordination. They can grow confident in knowing that their body has the ability and the skills to compete with boys.
Building Confidence and Self-Esteem
Being part of a team and achieving success through hard work and dedication gives young girls a sense of accomplishment and pride. Additionally, the soccer field is a safe environment in which they can take risks, like using a skill to get past a defender or taking a difficult shot on goal. Regardless of the outcome, there are valuable lessons to be learnt from all choices and actions on the field that can be applied off the field too.
Soccer also fosters an environment where players will learn to cope with pressure and handle successes and failures, which are invaluable life skills.
Developing Social Skills
Joining a soccer team is a great way for young girls to make new friends and build social skills. Being part of a team requires players to communicate, collaborate and support each other to achieve their shared goal. These skills can help girls, especially those that may be more introverted, build positive relationships with their peers, coaches and parents. Nothing brings a group together quite like overcoming a score deficit to win a challenging game. Being a part of a team’s shared experiences develops a sense of belonging and community, which contributes enormously to a child's social development. Remember, ‘it takes a village to raise a child’. (7)
Leadership and Teamwork
Soccer can help young girls develop leadership and teamwork skills. When part of a sports team, there are always opportunities to motivate and inspire teammates, and the strongest leaders are born when facing adversity.
Soccer is a large group puzzle that requires creative problem solving skills, often under pressure, in order to get the ball from A to B. Working together towards a common goal can also help girls learn to be respectful, responsible, and accountable. Most importantly, soccer encourages young girls to make decisions, which is an invaluable lesson to carry into adolescence and beyond.
Playing soccer is enormously beneficial for young girls' physical health, confidence, social and leadership skills. We truly believe that it is the best sport for girls and we are delighted to see more and more young women playing the beautiful game.
We hope you found this blog informative. If you have a daughter and would like her to play team sports, then perhaps you will consider trying soccer. If you have any other suggestions for why soccer is the best sport for young girls then let us know in the comments.