Have you ever spoken about the impact of your period with your coach? Or with a parent? Or even with your peers?
For most girls in sport, probably not. Talking about periods, especially with men, has always been treated as a taboo subject and as a result of the lack of open discussion around the subject, many coaches, parents and players do not have enough education around periods in sport. This is something Girls Sports Club wanted to change.
The Period in Sport campaign’s focus was to bridge the education gap around periods in sport and to create awareness around both the physical and psychological impacts that a period causes for female athletes. We want to make sure that coaches, players and parents better prepare for sport, and that starts with acknowledging that male and female practices need to be different to account for the different challenges they face in sport.
The first step for Girls Sports Club was to start the discussion. We reached out to our Girls Rugby Club XV and Girls Cricket Club XI to ask about the experiences and barriers they have faced in sport due to their period. They highlighted the physical impacts of periods and how that affected their performance in sport, because the pain that comes from having a period can be unbearable for some. Being in physical pain while playing sport will no doubt result in an effect on sporting performance.
It goes much further than the physical impacts of a period, though. The advisory board members also shared feelings of anxiety and worry while playing sport on their period, due to the fear of leaking. There was an added dimension to this with some of the girls who played in boys’ teams, where they know the boys wouldn’t understand and it would be even more embarrassing.
Being on your period is not something that should be viewed as embarrassing. It is only viewed that way because of the lack of open discussion and as a result, a lack of education around the subject. Girls Sports Club, through the periods in sport campaign, wanted to bridge this education gap.
Through our social channels we highlighted these experiences that female athletes had faced due to being on their period. With wanting to make sure we increased awareness about the barriers girls face while being on their period, we focused on the physical impacts on female athletes, the psychological impacts, and how sports kit may contribute to these psychological barriers.
We wanted to not only help educate more people on the subject, but also to start an open discussion. We were joined by England’s most capped female rugby player Rocky Clark, Maryke Penman who is a former Premier 15s Rugby Player and currently the communications manager for New Zealand Rugby, and Matt Merrit, a women’s rugby journalist, for a Twitter space question and answer on periods in sport. Our guests answered your questions sent in and had a great discussion on all things periods in sport, from the physical impacts Maryke and Rocky had experienced to the debate around white female sports kit to what solutions we could find to help girls on their period play sport. We had so much engagement with this twitter space, with coaches and parents keen to learn more about the impact of periods in sport so they could better support their female players.
Although our campaign has now come to an end, we will continue to discuss, highlight and provide education on periods in sport to coaches, players and parents so that they can better support female participants in sport.