lifestyle

The adult sports team that allow players to leave and breastfeed.

adult sports

By AMY STOCKWELL.

Do you know “The Mighty ‘Bras”? No, they’re not about lifting and separating, but they are about support.

The Zebras women’s soccer team (known as The Mighty ‘Bras) are from Brunswick and they play in the Melbourne Open Women’s League. The youngest player on their team is in her early 20s. The eldest is in her 50s. Established in 2003, they are an adult sports team of women who play soccer because they love it. Most had never played before they joined the Zebras – and they have played through pregnancies, knee reconstructions and asthma attacks.

Just as an FYI, you should know that this post is brought to you by our partners at Fernwood Fitness. But all opinions expressed by the author are 100% authentic and written in their own words.

They have used the interchange rules so that players can leave the field to breastfeed (one player returned to the field just four weeks after giving birth). They take pride in their bruises, scars and injuries – as well as their increasing skills. The Bras play a smart game and a fun game. See them in action here on Channel 10’s The Circle, here on Channel 7’s Sunrise and here in their own video.

If you haven’t worked it out already – I want to be a Mighty Bra.

You see, I didn’t stick with sport as a child. I wasn’t considered “good at” sport by my teachers. When I was in my final year in primary school, I was made to play in the fourth-string team with seven year olds (while the other girls in my class played in the A-team), which was crippling for my 12 year old self esteemadult sports

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I never got back into sport – and I regret it. Even now, I tell people that I don’t like team sports, but the truth is that I have never really played them because my experience as a child was so discouraging. It’s not until I heard about The Zebras that I’ve even thought about joining an adult sports team.

It’s a shame because there are so many benefits for girls (and women) who stick with team sports. If you have a daughter, here are a few reasons why you should support her to stay with it.

Firstly, if your daughter likes sport, it’s a great idea to take the time to support her to pursue her passion – which will help her to value herself. “Full engagement with an activity she loves will give[your daughter] the opportunity to master challenges, which will boost her self-esteem and resilience and affirm intrinsic values rather than appearance,” says Rachel Simmons, author of Odd Girl Out.

But if your daughter doesn’t seem particularly athletic, it’s still important to encourage her to stay with sport (importantly, one that she likes). Catherine Steiner-Adair, Ed.D., co-author of Full of Ourselves: A Wellness Program to Advance Girl Power, Health and Leadership , says “It’s important to help even non-athletic girls develop some physical competence and confidence when they’re young. Whether it’s through team or individual sports, girls need to form a physical relationship with their body that builds confidence.”

Secondly, sport can teach skills that are essential in later life. Patience, persistence and practice are as important in the classroom and the workplace as they are on the sporting field. Turning up to practice when you’d rather be doing something else, teaches you that sometimes you have to do the less-fun stuff in order to reach a goal. Dealing with the fact that you might need to work hard to achieve something is an important lesson that will hold you in good stead throughout your life. Being patient with others and with yourself is an invaluable skill to master. Dealing with the disappointment of losing a game builds resilience and ultimately confidence that you can face anything.

adult sportsThirdly, working with a dedicated, thoughtful and skilled coach can have an amazing impact on children. Occasionally, your child may even respond better to a coach than she will to her parent in learning about consistency, teamwork and effort.

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Obviously, a bad coach can have the opposite effect, so it is worth attending some practices to make sure you are comfortable with the style and support demonstrated by the coach. If your daughter decides that she doesn’t want to play sport any more, it is worth trying to get to the bottom of that issue. Talk to the coach – and, most importantly, talk to your daughter about why she wants to quit her sport and whether there is anything that she liked about playing sport that could be found elsewhere.

Finally, sport is an excellent opportunity for family time (or time with other significant adults). Practising in the back yard, kicking a ball in the park or going to a sporting event together can promote a family culture of physical activity and fun, as well as togetherness (plus there are obvious benefits to your fitness in running around with them too).

Joining an adult sports team yourself is a great way to model positive behaviours and take time for yourself. Building skills can boost your self-esteem, too – so think about find your local equivalent of the Mighty Bras and get kicking.

adult sportsFor nearly 25 years Fernwood has been helping women feel fit and fabulous through pioneering health and fitness programs and expert advice.

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