Why girls must be encouraged to play sport - so they can succeed as women in business

Heather Jackson
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Chelsea celebrate winning the women's FA Cup in August (Source: Getty)
The number of girls playing team sports at schools is rocketing - and that's good news for future business prospects.
Data released from the Independent School’s Football Association has revealed that the number of schools offering football to girls has soared from 12 to 120 in five years. Similar figures are mimicked in other sports, including cricket and basketball, which have also seen greater global coverage of the respective female teams’ successes.
Women are engaging in perceived male-dominated sports from a younger age and the plethora of skills that accompany girls playing male-dominated sports and activities will be helpful to their progression into business and boardrooms in later life.
Rules of sport, often complex, teach us to think tactically. Playing different sports encourages us to think one step ahead of our opponent. A footballer in a penalty shoot-out has to make tactical decisions under immense pressure. And that psychological pressure translates to the business world when time-sensitive choices need to be made independently.

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Girls will also be encouraged to consider the rules as part of their development; learning strategic development, preparation and how to compete - all key life skills. The transparency of the rules is more important than the game itself; when we know the rules of the game, we are far more confident in playing the sport.
Mark Sampson, manager of the England’s women football team, plans to detail the importance of girls understanding and working within the rules at The Balanced Business Forum, a conference that highlights equal representation of women in business.
Boys’sports leagues are still more often than not far more substantial than their female equivalent, providing boys with a substantial networking opportunity from a young age - networking abilities that benefit them in business as they set out on their career paths.
When girls succeed in male-dominated industry at a young age, they are likely to grow up believing that with understanding and practice, they can prosper – regardless of gender. This mentality extends beyond physical activity, and into other male-dominated activities too. Yet more should be done to include girls to the fullest extent wherever possible.

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Let’s consider chess; an activity that is predominantly male, only one of two women a year enter the top one hundred chess grandmaster tables. FIDE (World Chess Federation) separates men and women into different leagues to compete, but unlike certain sports, there is no biological physical difference at play – so why separate the sexes? The psychological repercussions of separating men and women on this basis only serves to discourage women learning the rules to the game.
Boys are already benefiting from the inherent skill set that they gather on the sports fields of their schools, and have carried them through into the boardrooms of businesses.
Girls must be given the same opportunity to collect the same skills – through perceived male-dominated activities. If we start now, we’ll be raising a generation of young women with skills they need to learn. We’ll be seeing the benefits come to fruition with the equalisation of women in management positions, boardrooms and CEOs in the future.

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