Why is BVSS separating boys and girls teams in Smithers / Telkwa for U12, U14 and U18?
Smithers BVSS acknowledges that there are some parents concerned about the decision to have separate boys and girls house soccer in Smithers and Telkwa for the U12 and up divisions. After receiving abundant feedback from parents, discussing with respected soccer leaders in the community, reviewing published studies along with viewing how other organizations operate, the board voted on the change for the U12 and older team structure in the lead up to the start of this season.
So why did this come up? Several reasons with the main one being retention. There is a dramatic reduction in registration numbers starting at the U12 division continuing through to U18 level. While seen with both boys and girls, the drop is predominantly female at a continued rate of close to 30%. Diving into the root causes of this drop, two main factors emerge:
1) Safe Play - the size and strength differences become more pronounced and discrepancies in height/weight/abilities can begin to pose safety/comfort concerns. Some less contact sports such as baseball and volleyball are able to continue longer with a coed team, but the increased contact among players in sports such as basketball, soccer, rugby can make continuing to field coed squads more difficult. Perhaps the most important thing to remember here is that there's no one-size-fits-all approach to mixed or set gender soccer. Some girls will thrive in a mixed-gender environment, relishing the challenge of teaming up with – and taking on – players who are physically stronger. While others would simply rather play with those of the same talents. And the same goes for boys, some do not wish to play with the girls at the older levels and are not performing at their best for fear of hurting others.
2) Team dynamics – A team is about camaraderie and feeling a sense of acceptance and belonging. When girls feel excluded, unequal, less than accepted or supported, they drop out. Conversely, when girls feel accepted and valued, they try hard and perform well.
What it comes down to: Is it fun (comfort, inclusion)?, Is it safe (injury)? Yes there are other reasons that affect players' reasons for staying such as other time commitments, but we at BVSS are working to build a supportive, engaging and welcoming environment for all players to be able to develop their skills and game play. The feasibility of split boy/girl teams will be assessed per division and the number of male/female registrations is confirmed. We recognize that there will be challenges with pairing up teams for games; however, Smithers Youth Soccer will do their best to make it fun, fair and competitive. The executive board will take into consideration the registration numbers, player satisfaction and the overall skill/physical development of the youth as we move into our 2020 season.
The Smithers BVSS board would like to thank all parents, players and volunteers for being patient with this new and exciting program change. We are continuously monitoring our programs with the best interest of Youth Soccer in mind.