Ofek Leadership for Girls in Sports
Background: The first time a girl enters the gym, she looks around – she sees the boys from her class running on the field, or sweating teenagers and men, so much bigger than she is, pounding the court or blocking each other. She hears the coaches shouting, using words that make her cringe. It is how boys, not girls, talk. She recognizes the words, of course, but does not understand what the coaches mean. The gym is where boys rule and she is an outsider.
Now imagine this girl walking onto the soccer field, or the basketball or volleyball court and there are girls playing who invite her to join them and be a part of the experience. And when she hesitates, the smiling coach comes over and says, “Come on, we want you to join us. We would be happy for you would play with us.” This same coach remembers that she once was a frightened girl who felt like an intruder on the field. This same coach speaks a language that the girl understands. The coach knows how to encourage her when she is worried she is not performing the drill well enough and maybe she will never get it. It does not bother the coach that she throws like a girl. The coach knows how to speak in a way that her players understand, and knows what is hiding behind the girl’s shy smile. She knows how to break down the drill step-by-step to boost her confidence. She knows, because she was once a girl herself. Just like this girl who reveres the older girls and watches them attack the goal, watches them skillfully dribble and pass the ball to each other in perfect coordination until it crossed the net. She wants to be like them – strong, skilled, and self-confident. She adores them. She wants to be part of this team that laughs together, high-fives each other, struggles together on the field, that sticks around after practice to talk and share their experiences. She wants to be like her coach, and she knows she can be.
The goal of the Value Sports Ofek Leadership Program is to mentor girls in sports clubs to recognize and develop their personal and social skills to become leaders and role models on and off the field. The leadership cohort chooses a project through which they can teach the younger girls in the club the values they have learned and acquired. These same girls inspire and support the younger girls, who look up to them and aspire to be like them. Having female leaders in the sports club, who understand the needs and challenges of other girls and women, helps create a safe and supportive environment for female athletes of all ages. Through workshops and professional guidance, the program will help sports clubs retain their female athletes and give the girls the confidence they need to persevere in the sports as coaches, managers and leaders.
- Develop women's leadership and social networks in and outside of sports.
- Retain girls in sports by creating professional, social and personal connections.
- Improve the body image and self-confidence of girl athletes.
- Support the team’s camaraderie and teamwork to create a welcoming and safe atmosphere for the girls on the team.
- Transform the club into a social framework that encourages adolescents, parents and girls to get involved in their communities.
- Give coaches, both women and men, practical tools to improve communication with girl athletes and to know how to cope with their personal and social challenges.
The activities include leadership development workshops for the leadership group of adolescent girls, preparation and implementation of their group project (including preparatory meetings, steering the activity and meeting with their contemporaries), meetings with the coach and regular updates, and workshops on constructive parental involvement.