One of the first activities we ever organised in July 2017 was a WISE Start With Sports: Mothers and Daughters Sports Day. We had six families show up, learning to play field hockey, tag rugby and Ultimate Frisbee with us.
Since that inaugural event, the WISE Start With Sports: Mothers and Daughters Sports Day has become one of our signature programs. We have so much appreciation seeing the enjoyment, laughter, and even competitiveness as mothers and daughters gain new skills, have fun, and learn new sports.
We recognise that sports are a beneficial and positive channel to strengthen family bonds, and that daughters have no better role models than their mothers who exemplify traits and values that define who they grow up to be. We also believe that mothers instil behaviours and habits that help girls develop lifelong enjoyment and participation in sports – which ultimately help girls lead physically, emotionally and mentally healthier lives.
And so, as we continue to organise various Mothers and Daughters Sports Day, we also want to spo(r)tlight a few of our families who have been coming out to our activities regularly. From them we will learn how they view sports for their daughters and children and what words of advice they have to encourage other Mothers and Daughters to join our future activities.
First up: we present the story of The Comsa’s.
Adela has been a frequent supporter of WISE HK, joining us regularly for our Mother and Daughter Sports days, and even our panel discussion, “Why Girls Should Play Sports” (event recap here). Originally from Romania, Adela grew up playing sports throughout her childhood, practicing them almost every day. Now, with an 8-year old daughter, Aprilia, and living in Hong Kong, she is eager for Aprilia to have as many opportunities as possible to practice sports.
We caught up with Adela to understand what it is like to raise an athletic daughter in Hong Kong, the struggles that they face, as well as ways in which Adela is able to empower and support Aprilia’s willingness to play sports.
Do you feel that your daughter has female sport role models (anywhere in the world)?
Yes I do believe she has role models, mainly from the family. We encourage her to play sports and always read books with her about how sports can empower girls. This helps Aprilia’s mental health because it shows her what she can become. We point out whenever there are women coaching. We went to a WISE HK mother and daughter sports day, and the football coach was a woman who had represented New Zealand in the world cup. This was great for my daughter to see an example of a woman in a coaching role.
Even older girls from her football club are great role models. Aprilia has always looked up to older girls, whenever she watches them play she wants to practice more and get better. The one thing I have noticed is that in girls’ teams they tend to have a stronger bond, and they want to get better together. There’s also this sense of pride that my daughter has for her other teammates, so I believe her teammates are also her role models.
Why do you think it is important for your daughter to play sports?
In my life sports taught me discipline, which helped me later on in my career, and I can already see the same thing happening with my daughter.
It’s been a great opportunity for her to gain confidence and motivation as well as to push herself to get better. I already see Aprilia being more positive and resilient. For example if her football team loses she is able to remain positive and work even harder in the future.
Sports not only keeps her physically healthy, it also creates a healthy state of mind. Through sports Aprilia has become more balanced and emotionally stable. She is able to balance between school, sports, and friendships easier. She is also able to talk more openly about her feelings, her struggles, and is able to find solutions to her problems.
What my daughter learns through sports, she is now starting to use in other situations. If she struggles with homework I remind her about when she once struggled at something in sports, but was able to overcome that and get better, and how she can use the same mind set but for homework.
“What I noticed is that sports have impacted her in a positive way in her daily life it has taught her resilience, and to be able to keep moving forward.”
What have you found to be the most challenging aspects for your daughter playing sports in Hong Kong?
In Hong Kong more girls play then I was expecting them to, but not as often. Back home I used to practice every day because I was passionate and wanted to play. However, in Hong Kong you either choose to be an elite athlete or play for fun, there is no middle ground.
There is also less opportunity for girls’ teams to have more practices. Boys have the opportunity to practice more often and improve, but not for girls.
In order for girls to take sports more seriously in Hong Kong we should give them to opportunity to play more and get better.
What do you enjoy about the WISE HK mother and daughter sports days that encourage you to come back?
We not only spend quality time together, but we learn new sports, and make new friends. We come back because we both love sports and its organized in a way where all levels can participate, and it’s nice that the girls can see their mothers play too.
When I don’t know the sport for example, like American football or dodgeball, I expose my fear and show my daughter my vulnerability. The sports days give a different and positive way to connect with your daughter and other mothers, and in turn it gives the girls more confidence to try new sports.
“I show her that I am willing to expose myself to try new things and take on new challenges.”
What do you hope your daughter is getting out of these sports days?
I hope that Aprilia is having fun, and learning to trust herself that she is able to learn new things and challenge herself. That even if she doesn’t know the sport, she is still willing to give it a try. I can already see that Aprilia has built friendships from these sports days, and has become more social with other girls. These sports days give her confidence to try new things; this in turn empowers her to be more resilient and continue to challenge herself.
What advice do you have for other mothers who may want to get involved in sports with their daughters?
As mothers we have to be positive role models for our daughters so give sports a try, challenge yourself and encourage your daughter. If you do not feel that sporty, bring a friend and make it a social thing. Sometimes it can be intimidating, but think of the children and how happy it will make them.
In Hong Kong we tend to be very academic, and sports can be seen as taking time away from studying, but actually it can give you great discipline. Bring your daughter to play sports, and just have fun! It’s a great way to bond and it doesn’t need to be competitive.
“Let your daughter be exposed to all the sports out there, it can only have a positive impact.“
We hope you found this interesting, to read how a mother has found sports to be empowering for her daughter, and what keeps her motivated to play sports together with her daughter.
We encourage you to come and join us at our next mother and daughter sports day (tentatively scheduled for weekend of 9 or 10 March!)
Written by: Ela Howard