By HERMIONE WAY

IT is one of the final taboos in football, one that you will never hear mentioned in the post-match interviews. How many coaches, after all, would put a poor performance down to having players in and around their period?

Emma Hayes, manager of Chelsea Women, has grasped the nettle to organise training around players menstrual cycle – resulting in better performances and less injuries. A world first.

She told Telegraph Sport that tactics, strength and conditioning and rehab for women are all based on male physiology.  “It is fair to say I am a female coach in an industry where women have always been treated like small men,” she said.

The turning point came after a “second-best” performance against Arsenal when many players were on their period. Now Chelsea tailor training and nutrition around the menstrual cycle, which helps players control weight and reduces injuries such as cruciate ligament damage.

If this takes off, it could revolutionise how female athletes are managed across all sports.  However, the starting point is at school when we have to ensure young girls are comfortable in their own skin.

With knowledge comes the confidence to talk openly about how our bodies are different from men. And that for young women, the onset of menstruation, should not be the catalyst for dropping out of organised sport, but something to be embraced.

Sport England reckon more than 50 per cent of still women pass up on an opportunity for exercise because they worry what others think about their bodies.

Their This Girl Can advert shows real-life images of women overcoming period pain or menopause symptoms to stay active.  Yes, exercising during your period can be “bloody brilliant”.

There is not an association in the world that does not advocate for more women in sport. One starting point would be to embrace the openness and candour of trailblazers like Emma Hayes and put a full stop – or period – on the discriminatory silence around menstruation. 

Source: Daily Telegraph