Conversations are happening across our country at every level of sport about the best policies to encourage the participation and development of female athletes. Coaches, associations and the athletes themselves are exploring solutions that create opportunities or support young players to achieve new skills. However, policies such as the recent decision by the Saskatchewan Hockey Association (SHA) to create geographic boundaries around Saskatoon and Regina, excluding girls in rural areas from playing on city teams, have been questioned.
The geographic boundary approach has been used in the past to encourage the development of more boys' teams outside of the major centres. However, Dr. Louise Humbert, a Kinesiology faculty member, cautioned against applying the same logic that had worked previously because of the different ways girls and boys approach and participate in sport, "Young women will often connect, and then compete. Young men will often compete and then develop a connection. It's the connection, it's the relationships, that will often recruit and sustain involvement of girls and young women."
"What's coming is almost a tsunami of influences against girls to be active," said Dr. Humbert and if policy decisions are made without putting additional supports and resources in place, this jeopardizes the success of the end result that the policy was hoping to achieve.