RTÉ Keep it Up commences from Tuesday 3rd May and Thursday, at 17:00 RTÉ2 & RTÉ Player and will air Tuesday and Thursday for three consecutive weeks.
In this 6-part docu-series, basketball star and Ireland’s favourite P.E. teacher Emer O’Neill’s theory is put to the test as she brings together 9 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?
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. Over half of girls participating in sports in Ireland, drop out by the time they are 14. Puberty, bullying, crop tops, cliques, team sport versus singular sports, smelly dressing rooms, spray tans, everything is discussed. This series will follow this group of teenagers as they re-engage with Sport to see if they can Keep it Up. We follow their success 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?
But more importantly, will they have fun?
In 2018: 50,141 people attended the Ladies All- Ireland football final, making it one of the highest attended female sporting events in the world. A wonderful achievement highlighting the appetite for female sport and yet there is a problem at the root of female sports in the 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.
Two-thirds of girls in Ireland experience peer pressure every day, often about their appearance, and we all know the damage that peer pressure can cause. Girls who keep up participation in sports are not only healthier but they have higher levels of body confidence and report higher rates of positive mental wellbeing.
In this series, which is shot, directed, and fully crewed by an all-female crew, we’ll hear from them 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.
All the while the girls will be centre-stage, it is their story we are telling and their journey we are sharing in. They will hopefully be the inspiration for others to follow, but nothing will be
sugar-coated. We’ll see how tough it can be: research shows that 71% of girls feel they are more likely to give up because they are not as encouraged as much as their male counterparts.
To help keep spirits high, when times get tough we have our experts on-hand including:
· Valerie Mulchay: LGFA player for Cork
· Stephanie Roche: Footballer (remember that goal!)
· Sena Naoupu: Rugby Ireland and Leinster
· 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
· Nora Stapleton of Sports Ireland, women in sports lead and former international rugby player
· Maire Treasa Ní Cheallaigh Spórt Psychologist
· Bríd Ryan of Queen Bee Athletics and former rowing international
The series is humorous, empathetic, and fun as we embark on this journey with them. It is full of heart and compassion and aspirations in its hopes that we can shift our perceptions about women’s sports and help to get girls to re-engage with sports again and to keep it up.
But if they don’t have fun while doing it, what is the point?
Episode One: Tuesday 3rd May, 17:00, RTÉ2
Coach Emer O’Neill brings together a group of 9 teenage girls who have either dropped out of sport or never played. Who are they, how do they feel about sport and what are they scared of? Why do teenage girls give up sport when they turn 13? They talk body image, fun, fears and feelings as they prepare to rewrite the script.
Episode Two: Thursday 5th May, 17:00, RTÉ2 We follow the journeys of our 9 girls as they discuss, scrutinise and attempt different sports. The group are joined by Cork footballer Valerie Mulcahy as they go in search of answers – what can sport do for us? We also learn about pushing yourself to your limits as the girls try boxing and abseiling.