‘Cos girls just wanna be tough!
Participating in sports provides all children with a wide range of skills and experiences, but it also has the ability to empower young girls in ways somewhat different from boys. On top of the benefits of teamwork, increased self-confidence and learning how to fail, sports allow girls, in particular, to discover the power of their minds and bodies. Over the last few years, athletes such as tennis superstar Serena Williams, Olympic gymnast Simone Biles and HK cyclist Sarah Lee have transformed the world of women’s sports. Not only do these women break barriers within sport, but they have also inspired a whole new generation of girls. Participating in sports empowers girls, and as Williams herself once stated, “The lessons learned in sports will help you win beyond the field”.
Whilst plenty of girls do grow up playing sport, at some stage, there is often a split. Most boys continue learning and playing sports, while many girls choose to change their path. Now is the time to actively encourage girls to stay in sports and take it a step further – introduce them to less “safe” sports. Young girls are ready to be challenged, so let’s allow them to see that they can be just as strong, just as fast and just as “sporty” as boys. We’ve lined up some great and unusual options in Hong Kong where you can teach your girls to be fierce and fearless.
Capoeira originates from Brazil and is a very unique art form. It is performed to music and combines elements of martial arts, dance and acrobatics. It also focuses on self-defence, strength and discipline. Capoeira helps to increase confidence, attention and reflexes as well as balance, endurance and flexibility.
Girls as young as 2.5 years can attend classes with the Kids Capoeira classes here, which are held at various times all over Hong Kong, Kowloon and the New Territories.
Axé Capoeira offers classes for kids on Thursdays evenings and Saturday mornings in Causeway Bay.
Ice Hockey is a full-contact sport most popular in North America and Northern Europe. Not only is it excellent for cardiovascular fitness, but it also focuses on eye-hand coordination and physical strength. This fast-paced game will help build girls’ communication skills all whilst perfecting those ice-skating moves.
Penguins Hockey Skating Group
Penguins Hockey Skating Group offers classes for children from ages 3 to 6 throughout the day on weekends. Classes take place at Mega Ice in Kowloon.
As well as running coaching for competitive teams from Under 6, Hong Kong Typhoons runs the “Tykes Beginners Training Programme” designed for those new to hockey and just learning to skate. Hockey players can start at the age of 3 or even younger. It runs classes on Thursdays from 4pm to 5pm.
Fencing is the recreational sport of swordplay that can be enjoyed by people of any age and offers a multitude of benefits for girls. Fencing promotes agility, reactivity and endurance. It also improves strength, flexibility, and coordination. It is one of the more popular sports in Hong Kong and more schools are beginning to offer it on their premises.
From as young as 3, girls can enter into a “Mixed Foil Class” and begin to learn the basics of fencing. Through the sport, they also develop their concentration and discipline. These classes run throughout the week and at many different times of the day.
Hong Kong Fencing Master promotes respect and safety through fencing and offers classes all over the 852. Classes begin at 3.5 years (BB Class) and take place over the weekend, while the “Petite” and “Musketeers” classes for primary school students, as well as the classes for teens, happen during the week.
Brazillian Jiu-Jitsu (BJJ) is a “grappling-based” martial art with a central theme of controlling and resisting the opponent in ways that force him or her to submit. BJJ prides itself on being known as the “gentle art” and promotes skills such as control, strength and self-defence.
The Studio by JAB promotes a healthy mind and body. It offers kids BJJ classes for ages 5 to 10 on Tuesdays and Fridays at 5pm. It also runs kids’ kickboxing and boxing classes on other days.
Espada Studio offers BJJ Tots which works on individual development and personal growth. It will instil strength, self-awareness, respect and discipline through its fun and friendly classes. It offer classes on Wednesdays and Saturdays. BJJ Kids, for slightly older children, runs on Mondays, Wednesdays, Fridays and Saturdays.
Espada Studio, 4/F So Hong Commercial Building, 41-47 Jervois Street, Sheung Wan, Hong Kong, 2885 1922, www.espada.hk
Taekwondo directly translates to “the way of the hand and foot”. It is a Korean Martial Art which requires very fast spinning and kicking techniques! For kids, it’s fantastic for confidence, strength and agility.
Cheung Do Kwan emphasises that “Manners make a difference” and its classes are aimed at developing control over the mind and the body, while developing a strong sense of justice, humility and resolve. If this sounds like something you want your little one to learn, sign her up for the Tots classes (ages 3 to 5) which take place every day of the week at different venues throughout Hong Kong.
SPRING offers classes to kids across various disciplines. Taekwondo is one of the Physical Competence programmes it offers for three age groups – 2 to 3, 3 to 4, and 4 to 6. These classes are offered throughout the whole week. Its programme introduces children to the basics of Taekwondo and touches on physical and mental conditioning within a martial arts context.
Surrounded by sea, Hong Kong is a fantastic place for water sports. There are a number of water sports centres offering group or private classes for your daughter in windsurfing, wakeboarding, stand-up paddleboarding (SUP) and kayaking. Like any other form of exercise, water sports are good for your child’s physical health. However, water sports are also particularly good for the mind due to the tranquillity and calming nature of the water and water-based activities are known to reduce anxiety and improve mood.
Think of SUP as a cross between surfing and kayaking. This fast-growing sport includes the use of arms and a paddle while kneeling or standing on a long paddleboard to move around in the water. SUP is a brilliant activity reaping rewards for the mind and body. Whilst it is a full-body workout requiring core strength and excellent balance, it’s also a test of mental endurance. Certainly, on her first try, your daughter may find herself having to get back onto the board several times!
Wakeboarding is the evolution of waterskiing. Rather than having the feet strapped onto skis, in wakeboarding, the rider is fastened to a board. They are then towed behind a motorboat and from there, ride the surface of the water. Wakeboarding is the ultimate adrenaline kick. With speeds of up to 30mph, your daughter can feel the wind in her hair and refresh her mind! Wakeboarding is also great for hand-eye coordination, reaction times and versatility, and strengthening arm and leg muscles.
Sometimes, your child might just be bored with the regular football/tennis/basketball options. If she wants to try something different, you could consider Gaelic football. This Irish sport is played with a round ball and both hands and feet are used to control and pass the ball. It’s fantastic for communication skills, teamwork and overall physical fitness. If your proudly-Irish daughter is a fan of this unusual game, get in touch with the Hong Kong Gaelic Athletic Association.
If she isn’t afraid of a few knocks and bruises, she could try lacrosse, another variant of hockey. The women’s version is not as rough as the men’s but it will be a high-intensity workout and will improve your daughter’s field strategy and vision. Sign her up for the Little League Lacrosse Course (5 to 12 years) at the Shek Tong Tsui Sports Centre.
Featured image courtesy of Getty Images, image 1 courtesy of Hong Kong School of Capoeira, image 2 courtesy of Mega Ice via Facebook, image 3 courtesy of Eugene Lim via Unsplash, image 4 courtesy of Espada Studio via Facebook, image 5 courtesy of SPRING via Facebook, image 6 courtesy of Jean van der Meulen via Pexels, image 7 courtesy of Jeffrey F Lin via Unsplash.