Participation in sport at Rockhampton Girls Grammar School dates back to 1893, with the introduction of tennis and rounders. Basketball was played from 1900. As a new sport which was different in style to any other game in Rockhampton, students learnt the rudiments of the game from a rulebook that Ms Downs had brought back with her from a trip to England.
In the almost 130 years since then, the school has continued to emphasise a strong sporting ethic. Participation has always been encouraged and, at one stage, in 1913, sport was even made compulsory!
Many sports have been added over the years. Currently, over 30% of our secondary students play club netball for Rockhampton Girls Grammar School. More will play interschool netball next term. We also have over 30% of our students representing Girls Grammar in touch football. 14% of secondary students play OzTag for the school and 15% of our students are training and/or playing in the rugby 7s squad. A further 20% of students have engaged in Learn to Row sessions, Running Club, water polo or basketball. We also have 30% of students engaging in fitness training, either through strength and conditioning, gym sessions or swimming sessions.
These are just the Term 1 opportunities! Later in the year, students will also participate in other sports including volleyball, soccer, futsal, cross country, athletics and surf league.
Activity for mental and physical health is also very valued with many of our boarders taking part in the Park Run each weekend. In May, we also hope to enter a school team in the Rocky River Run.
It is important to note that Rockhampton Girls Grammar School students buck worldwide trends for girls’ engagement in sport and physical activity. Suncorp’s 2019 Australian Youth Confidence Report highlighted that Australian girls disengage in sport by age 15:
15-17-year-old girls are significantly more likely to be playing less sport (46%) in the last 12 months or to have completely stopped, compared to 15-17 boys (30%).
11-17-year-old girls are significantly less active (-1 hr 18 mins) than boys of the same age in a typical week.
According to the Women’s Sports Foundation, an organisation founded by former World No. 1 tennis player, Billie Jean King, by age 14, worldwide girls are dropping out of sports at two times the rate of boys. Some of the reasons girls disengage from sport include:
a lack of opportunities available, either at school or within their community;
difficulties with transport;
a lack of confidence in their abilities;
they don’t see sport as fun anymore.
In contrast, key motivators for girls to engage in sport include health, fun and socialising. I believe this is why Girls Grammar girls participate so willingly. Whilst many of our students are highly skilled and competitive, others play socially, enjoying the time with their friends. Our sporting program provides a nice balance of competition, fitness and social engagement.
According to the World Health Organisation, there is a positive relationship between physical activity and a host of factors affecting girls’ physical health, including diabetes, blood pressure and the ability to use fat for energy. Regular physical activity can also reduce the risk of chronic diseases which have their origins in childhood, including cancer, diabetes and coronary heart disease. Activity beginning in childhood also helps to improve bone health, thus preventing osteoporosis, which predominantly affects females.
There is much more to sport than physical health benefits. Sport has the ability to build confidence, self-esteem, teamwork, communication, social skills, leadership, goal-setting and resilience. Participation in sport is part of a healthy lifestyle which supports the management of stress, worry or depression. It allows girls to grow in self-confidence as well as develop mentally, physically and emotionally.
These benefits can also be achieved through participation in the broad range of non-sporting co-curricular activities offered at Rockhampton Girls Grammar School. Our cultural and academic activities, including music, dance and debating, help girls to discover, develop and value their talents, socialise and engage with friends, build resilience, have fun, deal with pressure and improve academic performance.
Participation in co-curricular activities, both sporting and cultural, teaches girls to work with and respect others, to problem-solve, build self-belief and embrace healthy lifestyles.
Rockhampton Girls Grammar School is committed to the ongoing provision of opportunities for girls to engage in sport and other cocurricular activities. We also acknowledge that our success in these programs wouldn’t be possible without the support of parents, family and friends. I thank our community for their willingness to volunteer, donate, coach, support and transport our girls.
Bailey, R, Wellard, I and Dismore, H, Girls’ participation in physical activities and sports: benefits, patterns, influences and ways forward, World Health Organisation
Suncorp (2019) Suncorp Australian Youth and Confidence Research 2019, https://www.suncorp.com.au/learn-about/teamgirls/teamgirls-powered-by-suncorp-research.html
Women’s Sports Foundation (2021) https://www.womenssportsfoundation.org/