A push needs to be made to empower girls to feel like they can pursue sports at a young age.
What better people to push that cause than the girls themselves?
The Nike Game Growers program gives an opportunity for eighth-grade girls to share their ideas on how to encourage more girls to play sports. Two girls were selected by each participating WNBA or NBA team to help develop and test their idea to put together a game plan to help grow girls in sports participation.
The two selected from Minnesota were Claire and Lila, two individuals who are very passionate about changing the narrative of girls in sports.
The two were invited to the Nike World Headquarters in Beaverton, Oregon to help formulate their idea while working with Nike, the NBA and the WNBA to create their specific game plan.
“It was a really amazing experience,” Claire said. “They flew us out, and we got to meet a lot of amazing girls from all over the US. There were panels and speakers and activities. We got to learn a lot and were prepared for the challenges ahead for making our idea happen.”
So, what exactly was Claire and Lila’s idea?
“Our idea was to put on a day-long event for around 200 basketball-playing girls, middle-school-aged grades 6-8,” Claire said. “We were going to call it the Minnesota Girls Sports Summit. It’ll have a panel of Lynx basketball players, drills and different speakers. We want to focus on confidence, leadership, community and healthy lifestyle.”
“We were focusing on four main pillars of community, confidence, healthy lifestyle and leadership,” Lila added.
With the help of Game Growers, these ideas will be implemented and presented to the community.
Another factor in all of this is getting to the point where girls have more role models to look up to in athletics who aren’t men. With fewer and fewer girls playing sports, that number will only decrease in the future.
“We see all these male role models on TV and in sports, and there are women role models but they don’t get nearly as much advertising,” Lila said. “There are all these shoe lines for all the men and then there’s only one that I’ve heard of for women. So we have all these role models that are men, and then when girls don’t see themselves portrayed in those models, it just really, really gets the confidence levels down and they feel like they can’t do what all those famous role models are doing because none of them look like them.”
We’ve learned that sports can be a great vehicle to drive change, and it’s apparent we very much need that change. To get more girls playing more basketball and sports in general ultimately tell a bigger story of our society and can help build different skillsets along the way.
You can learn more about Game Growers here.