A Look Into the #WePlay: Inspiring Girls in Sport Conference
Irish Sailing intern, Lorlelei Mullenbruch, joined the Swim Ireland’s conference, #WePlay: Inspiring Girls in Sport, that took place earlier this month on July 3rd at the Sport Ireland National Sports Campus.
Here’s what she found out ...
The conference allowed women of all ages to hear from athletes and professionals about life in sports. Panels were made up of a variety of women in sport, from athletes and coaches to nutrition experts and sports industry professionals. With over a hundred people in attendance, most of the audience was made up of young female athletes, alongside former athletes and supporters of all ages. The conference provided an interesting perspective by not only touching on life as an athlete, but as a supporter, a parent, a former athlete, and people who have made a career in sports. By providing the opportunity for guest speakers and panelists to discuss how they have overcome challenges and broken barriers, they were able to set an example and inspire all women in attendance.
Controlling the Controllables
One key focus of the conference was the effect of mental health on an athlete’s performance. Participating in sports, especially at a highly competitive level, can add extreme pressure and stress. Panelists discussed their mindset going into competition and dealing with the nerves and pressure that sports can bring. They talked about how it is important to “control the controllable”, and accept where you are instead of saying “what if” or “poor me.”
Negative body image affects a high percentage of women in sport. Mona McSharry, a gold medalist in the World Junior Swimming Championships, talked about how body image affects many young, female athletes. She expressed that it is important to remember the need to be strong to perform well in your sport, even if that means adding on weight. Being healthy is about fueling your body to function at its best, not conforming to the way other people think you should look. Nutritionist Danielle Logue, shared a similar outlook and went into detail about how food should be used to fuel the body and remain healthy in order to perform to the best of your ability as an athlete. She continued by discussing how dairy and carbs are necessary for energy, despite the common belief that they will make you gain unhealthy weight. Danielle discussed that what the media shows as being “in-shape” is not always the healthiest or most beneficial for each person’s individual lifestyle.
Setting an Example for the Future
From physical appearance to athletic ability, there are many false standards regarding women in sport. It is important to draw attention towards women who are paving the way for future athletes and exceeding expectations. Nicole Drought, Ireland’s top female racing driver, discussed her background around motor vehicles and how cars and racing came naturally to her from a young age, despite the lack of women in the sport. She further discussed how there were very few female role models to look up to along the way, which created challenges. She hopes to be a role model for other young women and set an example so future women in motor racing can see what it takes to be successful in the sport.
Many others share the same passion as Nicole to encourage women to become involved in sports. Conferences and events that inspire and unite a community of female athletes such as Swim Ireland’s, #WePlay: Inspiring Girls in Sport, and our own Irish Sailing Pathfinder Women at the Helm are only the beginning for an exciting and successful future for women in sport.