Girls play youth soccer!? Well, let us explain why this should not be something extraordinary anymore… In the digital age and rushed world; full of stress and anxiety, involving girls in any sports from a young age can surely bring the most out of this frustrated life. A well-structured, organized, and ongoing sport in a youngster’s routine has many scientifically proven benefits. So when it comes to playing sports, no sport can be better than soccer which is full of fun and challenges.
Research shows that a sports person following the WHO exercise guidelines tends to have better mental health as compared to those athletes who are not that much physically active. Hence, sport plays a crucial role in one’s life and is essential for both boys and girls. However, some people might think that, since boys are more physically strong, so they play few sports like soccer and basketball better than girls.
Though this is true to some extent but it might not remain same always. If we look at history, girls have been playing almost all kinds of sports dynamically over the years including soccer, and sometimes they even defeated boys. Here is an example of girls playing soccer exclusively against the boys’ team and became the winners. Hence it is crystal clear that excel in any field comes from an individual’s skills, interest, spirit, hard work and determination regardless of what the gender is. You must have heard the famous saying:
“In the end, hard work and passion beats out natural talent.”
In addition to all this, let’s take a look at why girls play youth soccer and what are the health benefits related to it.
Improves Academic Performance:
Some people might think that if you get involved in any demanding sports like soccer, it would seize your time and affect your career. However, it is not true. Keeping a balance in studies with other activities is crucial, and it can have positive benefits.
Since girls are more dedicated to their studies, they can be less active in sports. Research shows that girls who play challenging sports like soccer tend to do better in studies than those who choose to study only. Getting involved in struggling activities improves concentration, memory and learning. There can be no better chance to gain these skills by playing soccer.
Boosts up Mood & Mental Health:
The topmost benefit of any sports is that it improves mental health. Research shows that exercise releases neurotransmitter which enhances mood and brings happiness in a person’s life. Nowadays depression is a very common problem and is faced by almost every other person out there.
However, a research was conducted on a large scale in 2017 to see the effect of depression on both genders which showed that girls and women are twice more likely to suffer from depression as compared to men due to hormonal differences and certain events they face in life. Since soccer involves using almost all of your body parts hence it can play a major role in lowering the risks of depression, hence, it becomes even more beneficial when girls play youth soccer.
So it concludes that if girls get involved in soccer it can put a great impact on their mental health and help them cope with certain realistic situations. James Blumenthal, who is a clinical psychologist and Ph.D. at Duke University, states that there is a considerable amount of statistics indicating that inactive people are more depressed in comparison with active people.
Furthermore, he said people who don’t maintain their workout habits are more likely to be depressed than those who remain consistent and stick to their exercise. These evidences are enough to make it clear that youth soccer can have a very good impact on the mental well-being of not only girls but even boys.
Helps in Building Self Confidence:
Mostly girls are shy by nature. Some even face difficulty in interacting with people and fighting for their rights.
Since soccer is a game and no one would want their team to lose so playing football can be beneficial for girls in developing competitive and coordination skills. Furthermore, Soccer can be an impeccable choice when it comes to building self-confidence and self-esteem; it can help girls to become interactive both socially and physically.
Improves Certain Health Conditions:
Since girls are more susceptible to suffer from certain diseases like osteoporosis, breast cancer, and obesity in the later stages of life. Soccer reduces the risks of these diseases and helps in maintaining a healthy and balanced weight.
According to a study, girls who play soccer lose more body fat as compared to runners. This is because football utilizes both fast-twitch and slow-twitch muscle fibres. Hence, the frequent changing of these two muscles during the match can help in rapid fat burning.
Besides, on average, the bone mass of women drops after the age of 40 annually at a rate of 0.5 to 1 percent, and soccer can increase the bone’s mineral density by 2 to 3 percent. This can be a great benefit in preventing bone aging more up to 3 or 6 years on average.
Other Health Benefits for Girls:
The health benefits do not just stop here. We all know how important it is to have a healthy heart. In Denmark, a study was conducted in 2010 which showed that girls who were engaged in playing soccer for 14 weeks developed enhanced cardio health and fitness by 15 percent. Since there are increased running intervals in soccer, it is particularly good for sustaining overall heart health than only involving in other exercises like walking and jogging.
Moreover, Soccer also increases muscle mass. A 16-week study showed that 1 hour sessions of soccer twice a week resulted in 11 percent increased muscle mass in women’s. In each muscle fibre, the number of capillaries increased by 18 percent and the function of glucose which is a fat metabolizing enzyme was raised by 11 and 9 percent.
Risk of Soccer Injuries for Girls:
Admittedly, the rate of injuries and incident in adolescent girls is high in soccer. Research often indicates soccer to have the greatest injury rates among the girls high school sports. In Sweden a 12 month follow-up reported injury rates in elite female soccer players as high as 24 and 7 in 1000 matches each.
Furthermore, another data was reported in Norway where 181 female players faced 189 injuries in the same season. The German National League also stated 115 females experiencing injuries of 23.3 and 2.8 respectively.
How to Prevent Soccer Injuries?
However, there are multiple ways to prevent injuries in soccer. Wearing a soccer headgear helps avoid the most common head injuries faced by players because it can damage the brain directly. The second most common soccer injury is knee and leg injuries. Since running, turning and twisting demands are quite high in soccer, the ligaments and lower extremity muscles have to suffer a lot of stress.
You can minimize this injury by focusing on your physical fitness from regular exercises to strengthen your muscles, warm up before playing, and never forget to wear knee guards.
U.S Youth Soccer Club for Girls:
In the US for example, some of the top soccer clubs for girls include:
- Real Colorado
- Solar Soccer Club, Dallas
- The St. James FC Virginia
- North Carolina FC Youth
- OL Reign Academy, Washington
- PDA, New Jersey
- Eclipse Select (IL)
- FC Bucks
- West Coast FC (CA-S)
So by now, you must have understood the fact that soccer is not much a gender-specific game. Girls from all over the world have participated in football tournaments and other male-dominated sport. Should girls play youth soccer? The answer lies in the person’s own interests and skills.
However, skills can be developed easily with time, practice, and hard work. But the only factor which can have an impact on a person’s success be it any sports is whether he/she has an interest and enjoys doing that particular activity regardless of the gender.
Summarizing the whole debate, soccer has unlimited health benefits also, particularly for girls. So if girls are good at soccer and enjoy playing this sport, they should not miss the chance and enrol themselves in youth soccer program. Starting from a young age, they could become future champions and take their skills to the premium level.