Women's Journal

International Day of the Girl – Creating a Voice for Young Women in Sports

Image Commercially Licensed from: DepositPhotos
Image Commercially Licensed from: DepositPhotos

For half a decade, the WNBA and NBA have been advocating for change to benefit girls and women via the “Her Time To Play” program. This worldwide effort is designed to offer resources that enable them to connect, collaborate, and develop essential life skills through basketball.

This year, coinciding with International Day of the Girl, the WNBA revealed a new program called “Belonging In Basketball.” This new set of core resources focuses on personal growth, mental well-being, and retaining girls in sports. The nonprofit organization Girls Leadership collaborated in the creation of these new resources, aiming to cultivate strong, successful women.

Simone Marean, the co-founder and co-CEO of Girls Leadership, expressed her desire to expand the discourse on the obstacles that girls encounter. Marean highlighted that girls are disproportionately affected by national health crises like trauma and COVID, as well as systemic barriers in sports and basketball. Her primary objective is to create an environment where everyone feels they belong.

According to data from the Women’s Sports Foundation, girls are twice as likely to quit sports by the age of 14 compared to boys. Consequently, 40% of teenage girls are currently not engaged in any sports activities.

To underscore the significance of effective coaching, the new curriculum of “Her Time To Play” mandates that coaches complete a one-hour self-paced training. This is a prerequisite for accessing a digital platform that contains the curriculum, activities, and additional resources to aid them in their work with girls in sports. The ultimate aim is to enable coaches to excel in leadership roles within their communities while overcoming cultural, racial, and gender biases.

The curriculum and training for “Her Time To Play” were co-created by the girls participating in the program. The resources are designed to instill foundational, lifelong skills as they grow older. The program also places a strong emphasis on mental health, incorporating wellness check-ins as part of its new resources.

Journalist Arielle Chambers, a media host and ambassador for “Her Time To Play,” has utilized her platform to advocate for women in sports. Chambers shared how the power of representation in women’s sports has influenced her career trajectory. She emphasized that “Her Time To Play” is crucial for her because it provides young girls with a platform where they feel acknowledged, visible, and important, especially in today’s society.

Chambers credits role models like her mother, grandmother, and NC State women’s basketball coach Sandra Kay Yow for shaping her path. She views her involvement in “Her Time To Play” as a fulfilling, full-circle moment, enabling her to ensure that girls have the resources to make a positive impact both on and off the basketball court.

The mission of “Her Time To Play” extends beyond the basketball court, aiming to empower girls and women to make a difference in various aspects of life. The foundational principle of the program is to give every girl a voice and assure them that they are seen and matter.