31 January 2024


Since I set up my business, Our Goal, my network has become more important than ever. For Our Goal to be successful, I need people to know that we exist to empower girls and women by providing community football and mentoring in schools.

I’ve been extremely fortunate to be part of Women in Football’s Entrepreneur Mentorship Programme powered by Xero. I remember when the programme was announced thinking that it felt like it was made for me, and the timing couldn’t have been better. We’ve had a mix of online and in-person sessions delivered by experts at Xero and WIF, and each one has given me nuggets of knowledge which are shaping how I run Our Goal for the better.

In January, Michelle Dorgan gave a session on personal branding which really inspired me. She particularly talked about LinkedIn and how useful it can be to craft your personal brand, especially through publishing articles. I took Michelle’s advice and began to publish one article every week.

In the third of these articles I discussed the tendency for teenage girls to disengage from sport. The article got 15,000 impressions and over 500 reads. More than 300 people liked it, 50 people re-posted it, and the comments are full of insight and experiences. For someone like me, who is relatively new to regularly using LinkedIn and with less than 300 connections, I think this is the perfect example of the power of publishing an article to craft your personal brand.

Thank you Michelle and the WIF and Xero team for everything you’ve taught us on this course!


My teenage breakup with sport: Why do girls disengage?

In year 7, I went to ‘own clothes day’ in a full football kit, knee-high socks and everything. I thankfully spared my classmates the smell of my shinpads – I think my parents drew the line there (phew). I didn’t have a care in the world for what people thought: I just knew I loved playing football.

In year 9, my local football team folded because there weren’t enough girls to keep it going. I joined a team of older girls and stuck at it for a year or so, then eventually I dropped out.

By year 10, I had gone from being an active, sporty football-loving girl to doing no exercise apart from in PE, and not really being that bothered about it either. Sport didn’t seem to matter to me much any more.

According to Women in Sport's report Reframing sport for teenage girls, 43 per cent of teenage girls fit into this ‘used to be sporty’ category. These are the girls who enjoyed sport when they were younger but fell out of love with it in their teens. That’s a high statistic as it is, but even higher when compared with the male equivalent of just 23 per cent.

Reflecting on my own experience, there was a combination of factors at play in my teenage breakup with sport, both in and outside of school. Outside of school, a lack of girls playing at my age meant I had less opportunity to play. I also started to go out socialising with my friends more at the weekend and my priorities shifted away from playing football and towards fitting in with my friends. In school, I still enjoyed PE, but it was different. I cared more about how I looked in the classes, which had never mattered to me before. I started to wear make-up which I didn’t want to sweat off, so I didn’t push myself as hard as I could. I also started to care about how my PE kit fitted me and what others might say or think. I remember thinking that having a PE lesson first thing in the school day was a terrible idea because you’d be worried about being sweaty all day.

Women in Sport’s research found that when being active, 45 per cent of teenage girls feel they don’t have the right body shape, 50 per cent don’t like getting hot and sweaty, and 61 per cent feel like they’re being judged. On reflection, I think this increase in self-awareness was the main contributor to me disengaging with sport and physical activity in my teenage years.

I feel really lucky that I re-found my love for football when I was at university. Since then, I’ve enjoyed it so much that I’d almost forgotten about some of the conflicts I faced when I was a teenager. Now that I’m back at school and working with teenage girls, I can feel the challenges, struggles, and tensions they face when considering being physically active.

There’s no easy solution for this problem. For many girls, sport and physical activity still don’t seem to align with being a teenage girl, especially when sport at school usually means a PE kit, a big class of students, and some form of assessment. At Our Goal, I’m trying to break down some of the barriers that hold teenage girls back, while building their confidence and self-esteem to support them to re-engage in physical activity and beyond.

Women in Sport make the following recommendations to keep teenage girls engaged in sport:

  • No judgement – take the pressure off performance
  • Invoke excitement – bring a sense of adventure
  • Clear emotional reward – reframe achievement as pride, not winning
  • Open eyes to what’s there – redefine sport as more than school sport
  • Build into existing habits – tap into existing behaviours
  • Give girls voice and choice – give girls control to feel empowered
  • What’s in it for them – it’s more than just health
  • Expand what ‘sporty’ looks like – relatable, inspiring role models

I know my story isn’t unique – that’s the difficult part. There’s a whole new generation of girls who may be about to go through the same struggles. We all know the immense benefits physical activity provides for our physical and mental health, and we need to work together towards preventing all teenage girls from being deprived of these.

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