Over 100 students from across the Coast visited Peninsula Leisure Centre recentlhy as part of a local bid to encourage more girls into sport.
The Girls Get Active event, which was held on June 23, aimed to give 140 female high school students from years 7 to 11 the opportunity to try out a number of sports and hear from a range of professional athletes.
The free event featured a panel discussion with Claire Reed and Jocelyn Kelleher (Sydney Roosters NRLW players), Lauren Gosson (a five times National Championship-winning Cheerleading coach), Morgan Aquino (Brisbane Roar W-League player), and Coast local Tahlia Blanshard (NSW and Australian Swimming representative).
Blanshard said she thought it was “incredible” that these days were run for female students.
“I wish that when I was younger I had as many amazing female athletes to look up to, as now all these kids will have the opportunity to,” she said.
“It’s so encouraging for all these kids to get to hear all of us speak about our sports and know that sport is for them as well.
“I always loved sport but it’s not something that I ever really got to see other girls doing on the TV.
“It’s so amazing to be able to watch so many girls on TV now and hear about all their achievements – I think it’s really going to make a difference in participation rates in the future.”
The para-athlete said she wanted to encourage the students to try any sport they could and to never give up.
“Things can get hard but just keeping having fun, and as long as you’re having fun, that’s all that matters,” she said.
“I feel really lucky to be on the Coast – we have some amazing facilities here, and amazing coaches and athletes to train with.
“The Coast has given me opportunities to be able to participate in sports no matter what – there was never an expectation that you had to be the world’s greatest, it was just a ‘get in and get involved’.
“Sport is really special.”
After the panel discussion, students were able to participate in a sports circuit which included: Rugby League, Football (Soccer), Pickleball, Martial Arts and Floorball.
Council’s Director Community and Recreation Services, Julie Vaughan, said it was important to showcase the sporting opportunities available not just for girls, but for people regardless of their gender, age, ability or interests.
“Female participation in sport continues to grow at all levels from community sport through to elite sport and events like these are a great way for young girls to see what opportunities are available for them to engage in Sport and Active Recreation,” Vaughan said.
“Having a number of local Olympians, athletes and coaches involved in our guest speaking panel to start the day was a great representation of what can be achieved by young people through connection with local sporting clubs and associations in our region.
“Our aim was to showcase a range of sports from mass participation options like Rugby League and Soccer through to emerging sports like Pickleball and Floorball.
“We also wanted to ensure that we utilised sports who have existing competitions and participation options on the Central Coast so girls who enjoyed their experience at the event can register with a local team or association and continue their involvement in the sport.”
Students were selected through an Expression of Interest process which was sent out to all high schools across the Coast.
Vaughan said Council would like to continue to host events like this in the future to encourage more young girls to get active.
“We are hoping that future events will continue to attract more schools,” she said.
“The feedback we’ve received from today’s event shows there is certainly an appetite for more activations of this nature in future,” she said.
“Along with events like this, Council has initiated the Sports Hub in partnership with the Office of Sport and Sport Central Coast which provides our community with a one-stop shop to find local sport and active recreation opportunities.”
The Girls Get Active days are hosted by Sport NSW in collaboration with local councils.