There are many barriers that exist for individuals in their participation in sport. A barrier in sport is something that for some reason or another prevents a person from taking part. These can be physical factors, psychological factors, financial factors, environmental factors or lack of local opportunities. In relevance to my topic, women have many barriers to overcome, and there are many initiatives set up, one of which I will discuss shortly, which have been set up to overcome these barriers.
Football is traditionally seen as a males game, however over recent decades the women’s game, after being taken over by the F.A in 1993, has gone from being non existent to having television coverage and creating role models such as Mia Hann (US female football star). Although its increased popularity, football for women still has negative stereotypes and a common opinion is that female footballers are seen as unfeminine. There is also a lack in opportunity for girls or women who want to play football.
Women as young as 7 years old begin to show negative attitudes towards sport (Sport England 2002). Once a majority of females reach a certain age, they lose more interest in the sports which they maybe would’ve played when they were younger. It is interesting that 40% of girls drop out of sport by the time they are 18 years old (http://www.wsf.org.uk/media/press_releases/20041108.doc)
Attitudes to women and girls’ bodies differ in different cultures and religions. For instance, some religions, such a Muslim makes women wear traditional dress, which prevents them from wearing practical clothing for playing football. Self confidence A majority of women are reluctant to play football or compete in physical activity due to either the way they look when they are playing or their lack of confidence. From personal experience truancy from physical education lessons is much higher in females compared to men, maybe due to the fact that most females see sport or football as a male’s forte. Research has shown that women are paranoid or self conscious about their bodies and the idea of wearing small sports uniforms can put them off. This is ironic as physical activity has a positive effect on their bodies.
Lack of role model/media representation As mentioned earlier, there are not many role models in women’s football. When the World Cup was being held in America (1999), there was quite extensive coverage of the matches and the most popular player which came out of it was Mia Hann, who for a short while became a household name. In England however, the more well known players, such as, are hardly household names compared to those in the male’s game. There is a definite under representation of women in football however this is gradually changing due to individual or groups such as the Women’s foundation.
Sexual orientation It is a common opinion that women who play sports such as rugby, hockey or football are seen as lesbians. This has originated from the fact that these types of sports are seen as male dominated sports and women who play them are seen as unfeminine. Homophobia is quite common in society, so therefore women who play football keep their sexual orientation quiet. Although these days more females are playing sport, many individuals and even many parents try to avoid their daughters from playing sport as it is seen as unfeminine. Childcare Women, who can afford childcare in the first place, cite the lack of child care a problem and a barrier to participating in sport. Infact, a recent Sport England study (2002) proved that women are four times as likely to mention this as a problem than men.
Finance Women tend to have less income than men, furthermore women working full time earn on average ï¿½559 less per month than men do (http://www.thefa.com/NR/rdonlyres/30AA153B-DCDA-4D22-9610-D9A3FA703154/28534/SchoolsDevManual1.pdf). Many women believe that lack of money is a major problem for them in terms of participating in sport. There is also the image of sportspeople who promote the idea that its good to have the right/best equipment or clothing, this can be down heartening to women who cannot afford such equipment which will in turn prevent them from participating.
Lack of time Women are often restricted to the amount of time they can dedicate to sport as they have the greater burden of housework, looking after the children whilst the male goes to work. This imbalance is slowly getting more even as more and more women are dedicating themselves to work rather than housework and domestic chores.