Rise in schoolgirls playing traditionally male sports, figures suggest

The Telegraph, 03.09.15, new figures show that more and more schoolgirls are playing football, cricket and rugby - sports that were once the reserve of boys. HMC member leading independent schools Bradfield College, Brighton College, Giggleswick School, King’s College Taunton, Malvern College, Millfield School and Wellington College are referenced.

The number of girls playing traditionally male dominated sports, such as football and cricket, is on the rise, new figures and headteachers have suggested.

The number of schools offering football for girls has risen from 12 to 120 in the past five years, according to the Independent Schools Football Association (IFSA)'s mailing list report.

A growing number of schools, including Wellington College, Cheltenham Ladies’ College, Bradfield, Giggleswick and Malvern College, have introduced girls to at least one sport that was seen as the preserve for boys.

Mike Askham of the IFSA said: "There has been a lot of exposure of football on TV recently with the World Cup in Canada and there are initiatives from the Football Association that are driving up the numbers at schools.

"Some of the football played in our schools has also been successfully switched from the winter to the summer."

Separately, both cricket and rugby have seen a massive rise in popularity among girls, according to heads.

Christopher Heayns, head of football at King’s College Taunton in Somerset, told Country Life magazine: "Girls’ football has rocketed in the past three or four years.

"It started here in the late 1990s, with one or two girls joining in with the boys.

"Now, we have under-14, under-16 and under-18 sides and more than 40 girls out of the 200 here play football."

Cricket has also seen a surge in popularity since 2009 when England won the Women's Cricket World Cup.

A-level student Leea Dodd, who plays for England, said: "The second game I ever played was the national championships, which we won.

"I was playing hockey with my feet!

"We think, if boys can do that, why shouldn’t we?"

Roger Nicholson, director of sport at Brighton College, told the magazine his school had three former pupils playing for England.

Mr Nicholson added: "Since then we have promoted girls’ cricket and now have a proper programme with A, B and C teams.

"The sport has grown nationally and we’re very proud to be a part of it."

Richard Ellison, master in charge of cricket at Millfield in Somerset, said he has witnessed an increasing number of girls interested in sports that were traditionally seen as reserved for boys.

He added: "There has always been a situation in which the odd girl has played in a boys’ team, but, recently, we have introduced a programme with greater structure.

"Girls’ football is in the embryonic stage here, but it’s something we’re keen to develop."

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