Netball great Liz Ellis joins calls for students to wear sports uniform to school every day

Photo: Getty Images
Photo: Getty Images 

Netball great Liz Ellis has joined calls for children to be allowed to wear sports uniforms to school five days a week in a bid to increase levels of physical activity in the playground.

Speaking on 2GB's Afternoons with Deborah Knight, the former Australian Diamonds captain, and mum-of-two, said forcing students to wear restrictive school uniforms encourages them to be sedentary during class breaks.

"If you're wearing your sports uniform, you're saying 'OK, so today you are going to do sport or PE'," she said.

Netball great Liz Ellis.
Netball great Liz Ellis. Photo: Instagram

"But you want them to be active in every lunch break and every recess break 

"There's plenty of research around supporting the fact that if you give kids active wear they'll be more active. And also if you put kids in  restrictive school uniforms, they become more sedentary.

"I think anything that gets rid of the sedentary stuff during school breaks is a really good move."

Ellis' comments follow a study by University of Newcastle researcher Matthew Mclaughlin that found teachers and students supported a move away from traditional uniforms towards more comfortable clothes and shoes. 

"Students don't like wearing traditional uniforms. Studies show 62 per cent of primary school students and 72 per cent of secondary school students would prefer to wear a sports uniform every day," Mr Mclaughlin wrote on The Conversation recently.

"Overall, four in five parents and six in ten teachers support a change in uniform policy allowing students to wear sports uniforms every day."

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In addition to increasing physical activity, Mr Mclaughlin argues a move to wear sports uniforms five days a week would save families money.

"If parents only need to buy a sports uniform, this could save around $167 for primary-aged and $363 for secondary-aged students (based on Victorian figures)," he wrote.

"Sports uniforms are cheaper than traditional uniforms. Most sports uniforms consist of a tracksuit, polo shirt with school logo, sport shorts and trainers – at a total average cost of $163. Increasing mass-production of a sports uniform may reduce this cost even further."

Ellis says a rethink of school uniforms is just one example of how appropriate clothing could increase physical activity among young people, particularly teenagers.

She recently led a review into netball which found the tight uniforms required by many netball competitions were turning teenage girls off the sport. 

"It's such a small change, but makes such a massive difference to people playing the sport and not leaving the sport," she said.

"We asked people why they left netball, and one of the big things was that they didn't like the uniforms.

"They just want to wear clothes they feel comfortable in , so I'm pushing for netball to become far better in how it does that.

"I think the schoolyard is a logical next step, so let's look at what kids are comfortable running around in, and give them that to wear."