The She Can Coach campaign encourages more coaching opportunities for women.
Just this past week, the New York Jets hired their first female coach. A few years ago, the Arizona Cardinals trail-blazed the path by hiring Dr. Jen Welter, the first ever female training camp intern. The San Antonio Spurs, always one of the most visionary teams in professional sports, have the first ever full-time female assistant coach. She also just happened to have coached the summer league team to the championship.
Unfortunately, there is a serious lack of female coaches and role models. As a result, Up2Us Sports is launching She Can Coach, a fundraising and awareness campaign. Up2Us is an organization “dedicated to transforming the lives of our nation’s most vulnerable youth by hiring and training coaches who will inspire their success on and off the field.”
According to the organization’s blog, She Can Coach is “focused on the importance of growing opportunities for women to coach and ensuring young girls in vulnerable communities have great female role models in their lives.” Research shows that girls drop out of youth sports at a higher rate than boys due to the correlation of not having a same-sex role model. Thus, it’s necessary to have more female coaches and role models at the highest levels so that we provide women with the greatest path to success.
The organization has already placed over 2,000 coach-mentors in at-risk communities. The money raised in this campaign will:
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After 20 years, FIBA decides Muslim female athletes can wear hijabs during games.
The International Basketball Federation (FIBA) has made a long-awaited decision concerning religious headgear, and fans around the world are celebrating. Up until this year, FIBA banned hijabs, turbans, and yarmulkes during competition, citing safety concerns for the athletes. The unanimous vote this past month lifts the ban, clearing the path for more and more people to play basketball.
The fight to lift the ban has been years in the making and has been championed by many organizations and individuals across the globe. A few years ago, American-Muslim basketball player Indira Kajlo emerged as the cause’s mouthpiece, campaigning for FIBA to overturn its 20-year-old rule. Kajlo corralled support from women in the U.S., Sweden, Turkey, India, and the U.K. For Kajlo, the campaign was deeply personal. Upon deciding to wear a hijab, Kajlo had to give up her career and passion as a professional basketball player. Most recently, on the heels of Kajlo’s campaign and online petition, new organizations joined the fight. Athlete Ally, an anti-discrimination organization, partnered with Shirzanan, an advocacy organization for Muslim women, teamed up to pen a letter to FIBA which was signed by more than two dozen prominent athletes.
Unfortunately, this is not the first time Muslim female athletes have had to decide between faith and sports. Still, progress is being made across all sports to loosen restrictions and respect religious freedoms. FIBA’s ruling will go into effect in October 2017. It requires the headgear be black, or the same color of the uniform, and it cannot cover any part of the face or have securing elements around the face or neck.
Nonprofits and athletes are not the only ones to have weighed in on this issue. A month before the ruling came down, Nike debuted its first sport hijab with a poignant campaign around equal access to sport. Unquestionably, both Nike and FIBA are late to the game to support Muslim athletes, but nevertheless, overturning the rule is monumental for women’s basketball. Salim al-Mutawa'a, head of the United Arab Emirates' basketball association, explained, “When other Arab women see a Muslim playing professionally, that encourages them to play as well. There's no reason for them not to play now; nothing is stopping them.” Instead of worrying about a uniform, Muslim female basketball players can focus on their craft and pursuing the many opportunities that basketball can provide.
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Read how Figure Skating in Harlem, Inc. won Beyond Sport’s Sport For Education Award.
Figure Skating in Harlem, Inc. has won Beyond Sport’s Sport For Education Award for its innovative ICE program. ICE: I Can Excel after-school program uses figure skating to reach impoverished girls of color in inner city New York and improve their academic performance, physical health, and emotional well-being. Participants develop life skills, receive academic tutoring, and cultivate skating skills.
Figure skating is historically a predominantly white sport, so ICE is groundbreaking in that it targets black and brown girls. Yet, it goes several steps beyond that and also incorporates classes in financial literacy, STEM, and college readiness. Each girl has access to tutors, teachers, social workers, counselors, and skating coaches. The all-encompassing programming sets each girl on a path to good grades and healthy living.
At the same time, the sport itself is being diversified. Often, it only takes one athlete’s success to show that everyone, regardless of gender, race, sexual orientation, or religion should have access to all sports. Ibtihaj Muhammad’s success in fencing has empowered Muslim girls to pursue the sport. Simone Manual broke barriers in the pool proving to black girls everywhere that swimming is an option for them. ICE is providing access to sport in communities that typically are ignored, not just by the skating community, but by most sports outside of basketball and football.
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