Stand Together, the Portland Timbers and Portland Thorns community platform, started Girl Strong in 2016 to address the alarming trend of young girls dropping out of sports. Research has shown that by age 14, girls drop out of sports at twice the rate as boys. Jordan Farwell, community relations manager for the Timbers and Thorns said, “Professional athletes have the opportunity to help influence the next generation of young women to stay involved in sports, pursue their dreams, and stay healthy through play.”
As a part of the fourth annual Girl Strong clinic, the team hosted 75 local girls for a day of empowerment and play. Similar to most clinics, skills and drills are at the center of the event. However, it’s becoming much more popular to layer in emotional and mental well-being skills to a clinic. At the heart of each training station, Thorns players tried to instill self-confidence, teamwork and empowerment of others. According to the Timbers and Thorns, the Girl Strong clinic included a yoga station to focus on mindfulness and meditation.
Dana Spitz, a yoga instruction who assisted with the event, said, “We started with different breath work and went over a sun salutation to get the body moving and grooving. Then we did a visual meditation where I asked them to repeat in their head: ‘I am strong, I matter, and I am important.’ They all responded to this very well, so that was a very special moment for me.” It’s very common to integrate the mental, physical and emotional skills in a clinic because in order to be the best and most complete version of yourself, all of these areas need to be strong.
Why We Like It
Following the recent trend in mental health and mindfulness, this clinic addresses several issues. By using traditional soccer skills, young women are able to learn the fundamentals, but also improve their mental health through the same activities, sometimes without knowing it. Not only does this improve each child individually, it also helps curb the trend of young women dropping out of sports. There are many reasons why they drop out (lack of access, absence of positive role models), so by bringing girls together with their role models, this helps fill the gap that is missing.
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