Millfield champions Girls in Sport with pilot programme

Millfield champions Girls in Sport with pilot programme

Millfield is pioneering ‘girls in sport’ with a programme to support female youth sport that is ahead of top UK professional women’s teams. 

The programme was launched a year ago, before The Lionesses pre-World Cup injuries, colour change of shorts and youth training disparities came into the spotlight in the media and highlighted the lack of support for female athletes at a young age and lack of knowledge around the impact of menstrual cycles on training and development. 

It aims to educate, raise awareness and remove taboos around girls’ needs in sports that can hamper progress, such as puberty, menstruation, hip and breast health and concussion in females. 

Millfield's reputation in youth sport development means it has over 500 females participating across 30 sports on offer at the school. 

Working in conjunction with leading women’s health organisation The Well HQ, the pilot has led to a female athlete movement within the school, driving school-wide education and support to students.  

The Well HQ, who work with England Netball, the FA and other large NGBs, says what Millfield is doing is a really significant step, particularly in comparison to top-level women’s sports organisations in the UK and that the school is pioneering in the education sector, club sector and professional sports.  

Quote from Well HQ: "Millfield has gone beyond simply acknowledging the barriers that girls face in the sports space to fully integrating education and good practice methods in the everyday lives of their sportswomen, embedding sustainable change to ensure that girls truly belong in their school sports system. As a result, Millfield girls will now have a more positive experience and higher expectations within other sporting organisations they are involved with, regardless of level. We hope that they can empower changes within the elite pathways they embark upon in the future." 

A student-run Girls In Sport committee, comprising of both girls and boys, have driven a number of changes at Millfield during the last 12 months, shaping and influencing the culture. 

Students and staff have attended talks about the menstrual cycle and how this effects girls' sporting experience and development and have been educated on nutrition and RED-S (Relative Energy Deficiency in Sport), where energy deficiencies can impact female health and wellbeing. 

Millfield’s sports coaches have been trained on how to best support girls during sport training, how to tailor their sessions around students’ menstrual cycles and awareness of female specific injury prevention for women in sports.  The school held summer inset coaching for staff on how to make talking about menstrual cycles easier for female students. 

White shorts and skirts were swapped for blue in September 2022, in football, rugby, and hockey, over concerns about wearing white during periods, and all bathrooms around the school are now fully stocked with period products and coaches are fully equipped with products for away games. 

The school welcomed a specialist bra fitter to give advice and offer scheduled individual fittings for students and staff, delivering education on the importance of Sports Bras for breast health and sports performance. New female changing rooms were created at Millfield’s offsite football pitch complex and in the centre of campus. 

The school hosted parent webinars with The Well HQ, aimed at starting conversations about supporting girls at home as well as at school. 

This year, the school aims to welcome guest lectures from top female athletes, sharing their approach to managing their health and performance in tangent, further develop the school’s sportswear garments for female athletes and hold large-scale fixtures on the school’s main pitches to celebrate and showcase girls games. 

Girls In Sport student committee member, Jemima Heffron said: “We have seen a big shift, we think the Girls In Sport committee is one of the most successful groups this year as we have been able to implement so many changes in a short amount of time. I think that it shows you that at Millfield, girls' sports matters and Millfield is passionate about making it better for everyone.” 

Director of Sport, Scott Drawer said: “Students are happier, more confident and share new ideas to move the initiative forward. The girls feel more valued and equal, and the boys have greater understanding. There is more to do but we are going in the right direction.” 

 

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