It is crucial to have more women delivering sport coaching to help cut the number of teenage girls dropping out of physical activity, Judy Murray has said.
Murray was speaking as she helped with a workshop for high school girls which focuses on leadership skills as they delivered fun sessions for female pupils at Mount Vernon Primary in Glasgow on Thursday.
The workshop, delivered in partnership with the Lawn Tennis Association Youth schools programme and Tennis Scotland, comes ahead of the Billie Jean King Cup Finals, described as the women’s world cup of tennis, in Glasgow next week.
Murray, the mother of tennis stars Jamie and Sir Andy, said the finals are an opportunity to grow the game in the city and encourage more women into sport.
She said: “We have a shortage of female coaches in Scotland, actually there’s a shortage of female coaches around the world not just here, but we also need more female PE teachers.
“To encourage girls into sport and retain them in sport, for me it’s really vital that we have more women delivering, because women were once girls and they understand the environment according to girls so they’re far more likely to be able to create an environment where girls can thrive.
“I think especially during the high school years when there are so many physical and emotional changes that go on with girls, having more women delivering that kind of physical activity for me is crucial if we’re going to stop the drop-out that usually occurs around 13, 14, 15.”
At the workshop on Thursday, 12 girls from Glasgow’s Bannerman High School who are young sport leaders were shown how to deliver starter tennis sessions for P6 and P7 pupils, who then delivered the same kind of session to a group of P4 girls.
Murray said girls dropping out of sport in their teens is not a new thing but it now appears to be happening earlier.
She said that means it is even more important to make sport appealing to girls, and to invest in the female workforce to address the problem.
The tennis coach said: “It’s not a new thing, girls dropping out of sport during their teens, I think it can be all sorts of things, maybe they fall out of love with the environment, maybe their friends drop out so they drop out too, maybe the fun goes out of it, boyfriends kick in, school exams and so forth kick in, these things have always been around.
“But I think that the stats are showing us that girls are dropping out younger, certainly from tennis it’s happening more around 12, but I think girls are growing up so much more quickly because of the world in which we live, so it becomes even more important for us as tennis coaches or sports coaches to understand what makes girls tick.
“What do they like? They like music and dance, they like being with their friends, they like socialising, we want them to enjoy being active, it doesn’t have to be competitive always, but for me that’s why it’s so important to invest in the female workforce now to stop that drop-out.”