New TV series aimed at inspiring girls to stay in sport - features Cork football legend

A new six-part docu-series, Keep It Up, aims to address the high rate of girls dropping out of sport by the time they reach their teens
New TV series aimed at inspiring girls to stay in sport - features Cork football legend

Emer O’Neill and Cork football legend Valerie Mulcahy (centre) with the teenage girls taking part in new series Keep It Up

IN 2018, 50,141 people saw Dublin beat Cork in the Ladies All-Ireland football final, making it one of the highest attended female sporting events in the world.

It highlighted the appetite for female sport, yet there is a problem at the root of female sports in this country – participation numbers once girls reach adolescence, are abysmal.

Studies have shown that over half of girls drop out of sport by the time they reach 14 and they are three times more likely to quit than boys. These statistics aren’t just alarming in terms of our nation’s girls’ physical well-being but also in terms of their mental well-being.

A new six-part docu-series, Keep It Up, which starts on RTÉ2 on Tuesday, May 3, at 5pm aims to address this issue.

In it, basketball star, PE teacher and Today TV show host Emer O’Neill brings together nine teenage girls who have either given up sport or never played. The results are explosive. The girls will have their say and even with all opportunities, will they Keep it Up?

Over six episodes, we follow the teenagers on their journeys, both individually and as a group, as they explore the complex relationships many young girls have with sport.

Puberty, bullying, crop tops, cliques, team sport versus singular sports, smelly dressing rooms, spray tans, everything is discussed.

We follow the girls’ successes and their failures over the course of an intense two week period as they prepare to take on a ‘proper’ basketball team in the National Basketetball Arena. Will they be humiliated? Will these strangers gel on and off the court?

In the series, which is shot, directed, and fully crewed by an all-female crew, we’ll hear from the teens first-hand why they gave up sport and learn some of the pressure that Ireland’s young women are faced with today, and we’ll follow them as they re-start their journey back to sports.

We’ll be there for the training sessions, from the first day to the last and be there for candid home interviews about how they are finding it as we follow them throughout the process. We’ll see the ups; the downs, the joys, the camaraderie and bonds that team sports can create.

To help keep spirits high, when times get tough, a team of experts are on-hand to offer advice, including Cork football legend Valerie Mulchay, soccer ace Stephanie Roche, rugby player Sena Naoupu, and the 1974 Offaly women’s teams, who played in the first-ever women’s All-Ireland final in borrowed boots and jerseys from their brothers.

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