Why does the RAFAC persist with strictly gendered sports? Is it time for a shake up?

Why can’t there be male hockey competitions or female rugby?

Why hasn’t there been a diversification of the sporting competitions run by the corps? The ACF in my area run a climbing competition which we join in with as guest competitors but other than a few Wings I’ve never seen anything similar run on a larger scale.

What about other team sports? Cricket springs to mind as one but there are bound to be others.

With the increasing prevalence of computers and computer games I imagine the take up for sport is reducing across the board, would introducing new sports encourage cadets to compete who otherwise would not?


I think the answer is cost.

I agree though, we should definitely have more sporting competitions and remove the gender bias on the current ones.

There is boys hockey… at least in my wing/region

I think that we do need to balance supply/demand - great as it would be to have all forms of sport for all categories, we need to have enough interested cadets to actually run a competition.

That said, we need to actually work out what sports would allow the best competition rather than basing it on 1950’s school curricula. I for one can’t believe that we have more girls who play netball than football, for example.

I think there needs to be a real look at what sports people actually play these days, girls football and rugby are much more popular these days for example.

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Cricket isn’t really a sport though…

Cost. Cash money. Cash cash money, yo.

I am genuinely surprised that rugby is still on the cards considering how knee jerk mental everything is about health and safety.

Cricket would be incredibly popular in some areas of the country (the Home Counties, London and Yorkshire/Lancashire for a start) but it’s cost prohibitive, helmets are expensive and need regular replacement for example.

It’s cost, need for staff with at least some knowledge of the sport, calendar time for Wing trials and inter wing competitions.

We have tried to have football games with local squadrons and despite an agreement to do it, never happened as someone is doing something on that day.

Then as MattB says enough cadets interested. We are told we struggle to get teams for Sevens rugby, football, hockey and netball. When I was a cadet we had a squadron football team (as did most squadrons) and played 15s rugby at Inter Wing and Inter Region. In the last 5 years I have had ONE cadet represent the Wing in football and they went onto Region. But when they went to the trials everyone got in the squad, as they only had just enough for a squad.

When I was a cadet we had a squadron football team, all boys (pre girls). The biggest factor kids don’t play sport at school to any level in PE lessons where they can get some idea of the games and how many times do you see kids up the park playing “jumpers of goalposts” football.

They might be popular, but it is a niche popularity and unless they join the ATC, given they are probably training for what they do already, doing it in the ATC is a moot point.
I’ve got a girl who plays football and rugby for local teams, the other girls have no interest. So that’s 1 out 7, in that age group. Like many cadets with outside interests how they do cadets and everything else, amazes me.

Standardisation of age groups in many sports has impinged on the ATC’s ability.

I know from my cadet days there was a core of us that did football and rugby, who also did other things. This hasn’t changed over my years in the Corps. The same old names be that boy or girl turn up on the lists and these will be by and large the same cadets who do everything. Just like in my cadet days. We shouldn’t try and delude ourselves of any less.

There will be the same cadets who do activities religiously as it is what interests them.

As i understand it, rugby being a sport, injuries are reported (and recorded) in a different format to other injuries and thus don’t flag up so readily on H&S reports…

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However, crab football…



As someone who played rugby for too many years. It is a proper contact sport and your mind is prepared for the impacts, hence injuries on the day are not as many as people would like to think. You get bumped, bruised, cut and so on, but hardly injured. It’s not until you’re in the bath and later on, that you feel the bumps and bashes.

For many in rugby the injuries come out years later as a result of not stopping playing. There are a few high profile injuries that get in the papers, but they are few and far between. I have mates who continued playing and now walk around like an 80 year old.

Compare this to the supposed injuries I saw people claim when our son played football, it was laughable. I just told him to get up and run it off, unless he’d broken a limb. But then footballers are all a bit soft now, compared to when I was growing up.

Bit of sandpaper, anyone can have a go! :wink:


the point i was trying to make was under ACP5 sports injuries are not RIDDOR reportable and so are missed off some stats and records as H&S incidents within the Corps

Girls playing football isn’t Niche, all of our local schools have girls football teams Andy it’s on the sporting curriculum in the same way as it is for boys.

I meant niche in terms of the ATC. If girls want to play football they wouldn’t join the ATC, they’ll be doing it. However I think up to 11(?) most sports can be mixed, but at 11 they go to individual genders. This is where the ATC and its diminishing numbers wouldn’t be able to do it.

I have watched involvement in sport drop off over 25 years in the ATC, such that all sport seems to be niche.

I recall basketball being spoken about as a Corps sport back in the 00s which never happened as it was too niche. Except I think HQAC thought it would be cheap.

How many of your 7 girls play netball or hockey though? I still suspect that football might be the most popular sport amongst females.

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None and I’m not alone, given how much we as Wing seemingly struggle to field teams for sports.
There have been some girl’s football and the take up isn’t as expected.

The problem lays in school. I’ve asked cadets about PE lessons and unlike in my day, we would do rugby and football in the winter and cricket and athletics in the summer with occasional gym and swimming sessions. Girls did hockey and netball. We did have a go at hockey when we had a male PE teacher join, but it turned into warfare, rather than a game, so we gave up on that. The cadets now seem to do a bit of everything and achieve nothing, as a result they don’t even want to try things. When I was a cadet on the squadron we had a few footballers, swimmers and rugby players, who had mostly “learnt” through PE lessons or just playing football and swimming with mates and one of my mates had a cricket set, so a group of us used the school’s nets at weekends and holidays. Kids couldn’t do that now, given schools look more like prisons. As result of our school lessons we’d have a go and many of us got the surprise of representing Wing.

Basketball was played at Wing & Region Level in L&SER in the 90’s as were Tennis & Table Tennis, they got the chop when everyone decided we were doing too much and went down to just the core sports that the organisation plays at all levels.

We aren’t talking about sports being played at club & county level, cadets who are that interested in a sport are unlikely to be cadets due to the stresses of playing at that level. What @MattB and I were talking about is that the sports played at school by almost all cadets don’t neccesarily match the 7 core sports on offer at all levels in the ATC. Yes we still have interest in netball & hockey, but I see far more interest in my female cadets for football & rugby, but these sports aren’t offered to them at all levels because we haven’t modernised what we offer.

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