Naomi Osaka made herself a household name on the tennis court, and now, the Nike-backed athlete is using her influence to change girls’ lives through sport.
The athletic giant revealed Play Academy with Naomi Osaka today, a girls-only sports program in partnership with Nike and Laureus Sport for Good. The grassroots program, Osaka said in an op-ed, aims to “level the playing field by changing the game for girls.”
“The more I learned about the barriers that girls face in getting active, the more determined I felt to do something about it,” Osaka said in her Nike op-ed. “I started talking with people who could help — people who understand just how much sport and play can mean for a girl who’s still finding her own place in this big world.”
Nike said the program, which will launch in Tokyo, will accomplish its mission of increasing girls’ participation in sport by emphasizing fun and positive play experiences rather than competition, awarding grants to help build community organizations, focusing on coaches who are trained in gender-inclusivity to show that all kids are welcome in sport and inviting young women to become role models.
Osaka, who relishes the chance to become an even greater advocate for equality and change, said in her Nike op-ed that she is eager to get her work started with Play Academy.
“I can’t wait to get started with Play Academy. I hope that the girls will learn new skills, maybe discover a new favorite sport, because you never know where it might take you,” Osaka said in her statement. “But I also hope that they will have fun, gain confidence and realize just how powerful girls can be — no matter who you are, where you’re from, or what color your skin. Who knows? Maybe someday, they’ll look around and realize that they’ve become role models for others too.”