Many girls see their team as their “second family” which boosts their confidence and helps them cope with pressure at school
PLAYING football boosts girls’ confidence more than any other sport, a study found.
It also gives them a greater sense of well being, motivation and self-esteem than hockey, netball or tennis.
The findings are great news for girls like Kiera Knightley’s character Jules Paxton, who enjoyed a kick-around in the hit film Bend it Like Beckham.
Researchers quizzed 4,000 girls and young women on their sporting activities and psychological and emotional state.
They found many regard their team as a “second family”, in which they form friendships that last into adulthood.
The sport enhances their problem-solving skills and even helps them cope with the pressures they face at school and in their personal life.
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Some 80 per cent of footballers credit the sport with boosting their confidence and 54 per cent are less concerned with what others think of them since taking it up.
This compares with just 74 per cent and 41 per cent, respectively, among those who play other sports.
Study leader Dr Paul Appleton, from the University of Birmingham, said: “Across all our measures, we consistently found that young female footballers reported higher levels of confidence, self-esteem, well-being, and motivation than girls who play no sport at all.
“More powerfully, the results showed that young girls who play football also reported higher scores than those girls who play other sports.
“Crucially, the benefits of playing football extend off the pitch as well.
“The female footballers we spoke to talked about how football helped them to solve problems, deal with pressure at school/work, and feel empowered to overcome difficulties.
“They also spoke at length about the enduring and supportive friendships they made from participating in football.
“The results make a compelling case: if you want teenage girls to feel more confident, get them playing football.”
Researchers polled girls from England, Denmark, Germany, Spain, Poland and Turkey.
Some 58 per cent of footballers said they had overcome a lack of self-confidence as a result of playing the game and 48 per cent now feel less self-conscious.
This compares with 51 per cent and 40 per cent, respectively, among those who play other sports.
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