Enhancing the Evidence Base for Irish Female Youth Participation in Physical Activity—The Development of the Gaelic4Girls Program

in Women in Sport and Physical Activity Journal
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The purpose of the current research was to gather baseline data on female youth to inform the development of a targeted physical activity (PA) and sports-based intervention, specifically identified as “Gaelic4Girls”. Cross-sectional data on PA levels, psychological correlates of PA, anthropometric characteristics, and the fundamental movement skill (FMS) proficiency of female youth (n = 331; M age 10.92±1.22) were collected. A subsample (n = 37) participated in focus group (FG) interviews exploring perceptions of health/sport, and identifying barriers/motivators to participation. PA levels were assessed using self-report (PA Questionnaire for Older Children) and classified as low, moderate, and high active. One- and two-way ANOVAs (post hoc Tukey honest significant difference [HSD]) were used to analyze the data. The FGs were transcribed verbatim, coded, and thematically analyzed. Findings indicated that the majority of youth (71.8%) were not meeting the minimum daily PA recommendations for health, and that 98.1% did not achieve the FMS proficiency expected for their age. Low, moderately, and highly active participants differ significantly in terms of overall FMS (p = .03), and locomotor control scores (p = .03). FG findings report fun and friendship as key PA motivators, too much competitiveness as barriers, and positive outside encouragement from family/friends/coaches as facilitators encouraging PA engagement. Findings highlight the need for targeting low levels of PA, FMS proficiency in female youth sport interventions, through addressing self-efficacy levels, inclusive of fun, and socially-stimulating PA environments.

Farmer, Cahill, Lester, and O’Brien are with the School of Education, Sports Studies and Physical Education, University College Cork, Cork, Ireland. Duffy is with the Department of Kinesiology, The University of North Carolina at Greensboro, Greensboro, NC. Belton is with the School of Health and Human Performance, Dublin City University, Dublin, Ireland.

Address author correspondence to Wesley O’ Brien at wesley.obrien@ucc.ie.
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