Canadian Women & Sport, in partnership with E-Alliance and Canadian Tire Jumpstart Charities and Sport Canada, released a new study—COVID Alert: Pandemic Impact on Girls in Sport—examining the impact of the pandemic on sport participation for Canadian girls ages 6-to-18.

The key finding from the study shows that 1-in-4 Canadian girls, ages 6-to-18, who participated in sports at least weekly prior to the pandemic are not committed to returning to sports once restrictions are lifted. If realized, this equates to potentially more than 350,000 Canadian girls not returning to sport.

More than 5,000 Canadian families were surveyed for the study. The commitment to return to sport the survey found is dramatically lower among girls who participated infrequently compared to those who participated frequently (i.e., at least weekly) before the COVID-19 shutdown.

“As sports starts to return, there is an opportunity to change the minds of girls who are not committed to returning. Caregivers, teachers, coaches, and community leaders can play a part to remove the barriers keeping young athletes away from sports,” said Allison Sandmeyer-Graves, CEO, Canadian Women & Sport. “We must pay attention to what girls want and design programs with their needs at the center. It’s not too late to turn this tide. The time for action is now.”

“This concerning new data shows that thousands of girls are at risk of missing out on the physical, mental and social benefits of sports as we come out of the pandemic,” said Dr. Ann Pegoraro, co-director, E-Alliance. “Girls were already at a disadvantage in sports. This further demonstrates we require proactive and immediate action to create a compelling case for girls to return to sport.”

“Jumpstart’s national reach and partnerships with community sports organizations and thought leaders like Canadian Women & Sport have the Charity well-positioned to lead the way for girls return to sports,” said Scott Fraser, president, Canadian Tire Jumpstart Charities. “Through our Girls in Sport initiative, Individual Child Grants and our Sport Relief Fund financial assistance programs, Jumpstart remains steadfast in its commitment to removing barriers to sport and play.”

Key Finding In The Report Include:

  • 1-in-4 Canadian girls ages 6-to-18 are not committed to resuming pre-pandemic sports participation levels once restrictions are lifted;
  • The top three negative impacts, as reported by girls whose sport participation has decreased due to COVID-19, include mental health, physical health and social connection; and
  • 93 percent of girls ages 6-to-18 who participated in organized sports at least weekly prior to the pandemic, decreased their participation during the pandemic.

The top five barriers girls reported prior to COVID-19 have been heightened by the pandemic. They include: access to facilities and programs, quality of programs, alternatives/other interests; cost to participate; and lack of confidence.

To read the full report, go here.