ColumnistsRoisin Gorman

St Judy's right to be Pe'd off at smelly sport

Judy Murray
Judy Murray

God bless Judy Murray and all who sail in her.

The tennis coach has picked at the big scab of PE for girls and called for a rethink of the regular torture of organised sport in schools.

In the face of the rising muffin top of obesity you’d think it would have occurred to someone other than Andy Murray’s mother to make exercise attractive to the under 18s.

But forcing girls to freeze their knickers off outside in the depths of winter is still a key plank of encouraging activity.

Is it any wonder so many women look back at PE and shudder?

I remember several years of legs as blue as our big PE pants and the certainty that I would never need hockey in my life again.

After many terms of enforced netball we still drifted round like a herd of panicked cows who didn’t know goal defence from the offside rule.

The high jump was just a joke for those of us so small we could hardly see over a pub counter, and hurdles were designed to make sure you had no chance of ever having a baby.

It’s not just the actual pain of activity which puts girls off doing anything strenuous, says St Judy, it’s the communal changing rooms, sweating and showers.

Most young girls would rather admit to being a Cliff Richard fan than strip off in front of other people. It takes many years of internal examinations, the public indignity of having a baby and the arrival of stretch marks and cellulite before we truly don’t care who sees us naked.

When you’re already at the peak of insecurity about your looks the thought of getting red, puffy and smelly before double geography is just a vision of hell.

It could all be doable if we just changed the way PE is presented to young women.

If someone had said to me at 14 that exercise is cheaper than fags, better at keeping you skinny and less likely to be fatal I might have listened. 

If they’d suggested Zumba (just not with Judy who’s got the rhythm of a baked potato) we might not have flirted with eating disorders, and I couldn’t even be bothered to put my back into that.

Or if they’d just told the truth – do something in your teens or end up on the sofa at 40 with more chins than TV channels – it could have avoided many years of fat-hating. 

Teenage girls have so much to look forward to.