Check out these inspiring highlights from an event hosted by Warriors Basketball Academy powered by Rakuten and Girls Leadership. February 1 was National Girls and Women in Sports Day (NGWSD), a nationwide celebration to enable girls and women to reach their potential in sports and life. This special experience at the Warriors Basketball Facility in Oakland allowed girls to practice the skills to cultivate power on and off the court. The on-court activities consisted of skill development stations.
In the off-court portion, players connected with one another in small groups and shared what basketball means to them, and how they can support others in their basketball and leadership journey.
In each of the groups, we asked the girls to share what brings them to the basketball court with the following prompts:
- In basketball, I feel powerful when…
- One way I am growing as a female athlete is…
- To continue making basketball inclusive and safe for people that look like me, I/we could…
In small groups, the players made commitments for how to make basketball inclusive and safe for them and their peers. These commitments fell into five categories:
- Gender equity and more dedicated resources: Several girls shared that more girl-centered events like the NGWSD Warriors and Girls Leadership event would help girls stay in the game. They also wanted to make sure girls are treated fairly when playing with the boys (This was an 11- year- old participant who shared that while playing basketball with the boys at school, and the boys kept blocking all the girls’ shots, and the coach didn’t say anything to the boys). They also wanted more dedicated resources like increased practice times, scrimmages, games, and snacks (“snacks” was written down several times — food matters).
- Female referees: Girls shared that having female referees would make the game more fair; female referees would make basketball feel more inclusive because they would see women refereeing their basketball games. This is a visual cue that girls belong.
- Coaches and coaching: Players shared that they wanted to learn the game better so they could get better. They also shared that the coach matters.
- Teamwork and teammates: This category had the most feedback and idea sharing. A large number of the players’ commitments referred to how teams can work better together, specifically calling out “supporting each other.” This call for interpersonal skill development is consistent with the listening Girls Leadership has done so far with coaches and teams. Girls Leadership’s new Basketball Power Lab is a curriculum and training development model that elevates the expertise and insights of the people we are designing for, players, as the creators of their own solutions. We’ve used this model since 2019, from coast to coast, with incredible results for both girls, gender expansive youth and the adults that support them.
- Personal commitment: This was the second largest category of the players’ commitments. Girls shared their ideas for how they could each contribute to inclusion and safety in girls basketball. For example, a high school senior shared that she was committed to being the best role model for the younger folks on the team.
For the moms, dads, aunties, uncles, nanas, and neighbors in attendance, there was a special session on the role of sports in girls’ lives and leadership development. The adults talked about the expectations on their girls, the expectations on athletes, and their dreams for their girls and gender-expansive youth, and what these contrasting and overlapping expectations means for their youth. The adults concluded that sports is where their young people were practicing the skills needed to achieve their dreams. The evening concluded with parents and caregivers sharing suggestions of how to keep their girls in the game through challenging years when so much is expected of them.
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