St Mary’s Foundation fosters the holistic development of students
Female participation in sport advances gender equality and the empowerment of women and girls. St Mary’s School Waverley recognises the physical, emotional, social and educational benefits of sport that continue into adulthood. However, many young children are excluded from the opportunity to play sport due to lack of resources or access to quality sport programs.
Panashe Sithole and Sasha Dikotla are champions in the making through St Mary’s Foundation scholarships. These scholarships have afforded the girls the opportunity to not only receive a world-class education but also top-class sport training allowing them to develop in all aspects of life – beyond the impact on physical well-being.
Empowered to succeed
Studies show women’s participation in sport is an important social and economic empowerment tool. Through sport, women acquire social skills, develop a sense of identity and access new opportunities to become more engaged in school and community life.
Sport also serves to improve and drive academic excellence and critical skills necessary for success in the workplace. Research shows 94% of female senior executives played sport – suggesting a strong correlation between success in sport and in careers later in life.
Sport also promotes psychological wellbeing through self-esteem and confidence building. It reduces stress, anxiety and loneliness. This is particularly important as rates of depression among women are almost double those of men in both developed and developing countries.
Children who participate in sport receive praise and encouragement from coaches, parents and team members, which helps to build self-confidence. They also learn to trust in their abilities, accept criticism and grow.
From barriers to benefits
The two passionate scholarship recipients at St Mary’s Waverley believe women aren’t given enough credit in sport, but that it serves as a vehicle to improve female leadership roles and participation.
Panashe says, “Sport has taught me that in life you win and lose some, and that I can turn every situation into a lesson. Through sport, I’ve seen myself and my friends learn to cope in a competitive environment, abide by rules, engage in team work and respect others.”
Sasha knows sport has given her the confidence to achieve anything she sets her mind to do. “I apply the same principles I’ve learnt in hockey – hard work and dedication – to other aspects of my life,” says Sasha.
The future of women in sport
It’s vital for schools to offer a diverse array of sport to accommodate all individuals. Popular sport such as netball and hockey should not be valued over sport like volleyball and squash. St Mary’s provides pupils world-class sport facilities and coaching.
The St Mary’s Foundation believes women and girls’ participation in sport is a critical social and economic empowerment tool. Through sport, women grow to challenge gender stereotypes and are empowered for the future. The St Mary’s Foundation gives young girls the chance to score a goal or sink a ball into the net, no matter what their story might be.
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