Play Academy’s gender-inclusive coaching program gets underway in Japan

Kids form a circle listening to instructions from coach
Play Academy aims to ensure that girls in Japan have a safe space to interact with play, sport, and movement. ©Hiroki Nishioka/Play Academy

Play Academy with Naomi Osaka is connecting and training coaches through the Coaching Network Program for Gender Equality in Sport, with the hope to build a more gender-inclusive environment and level the playing field for girls in Japan.

Following its launch in late March, the Coaching Network Program for Gender Equality in Sport partnered with S.C.P. Japan to bring together coaches and program leaders across Japan for a series of interactive trainings, networking opportunities across the sports sector space and coaching toolkit development.

The Coaching Network Program will include:

  • Trainings: Through three 90 minute trainings, participants gain a better understanding about the importance of gender inclusivity.
  • Networking: Participants will have opportunities to connect through online and offline networking where they can share best practices in coaching girls and gender-related topics with experts in the field.
    • To mark the kick-off of the Program on March 29, grantee partner RKU hosted an online network event to share their experience from launching HERS, their rugby-based girls empowerment program, developed two years earlier with the support of Play Academy. Coaches and attendees at the network event got to learn and ask questions.
  • Toolkit development: A ready-to-use toolkit will be created for coaches during their daily sport practice.

The initiative comes after conducting a need-assessment with coaches that identified four major challenges they face in coaching girls:

  1. Organizational culture
  2. Environment around coaches
  3. Coaches’ lack of knowledge
  4. Lack of role models

“Through our experience working with Japanese grantee partners in the past few years, we learned values of collaborative work among the Play Academy partners to address issues in girls and sports. We are thrilled to expend the unique opportunities for local coaches to be trained and connected with our program and partners.”

– Kaho Shinohara, Play Academy Programs and Grants Manager

To join the Coaching Network Program for Gender Equality in Sport, please sign up via LINE ‘Gender & Sport Coaching’ Open Chat and contact the networking program team for any questions.

Play Academy is a partnership with tennis player Naomi Osaka, Laureus Sport for Good and NIKE, Inc., with the aim to get more girls moving in Japan, Haiti and Los Angeles. In Japan, Play Academy is currently supporting four local organizations that use sport for social change and is accepting applications for the 2024 grant cycle.

Coaches and coaching are essential components in increasing girls’ participation in sports.

– Miki Morimoto, Nike’s Director of Social & Community Impact, Asia Pacific

“Nike and Laureus, through Play Academy, have created this program to ensure that girls in Japan have a safe space to interact with play and sport, and movement,” Morimoto said. “It’s also about creating positive experiences with coaches – so that girls know that coaching does not only focus on skills and performance, but that coaches can help provide safe environments for them to express themselves through play, have fun, and grow.

“At Nike, we believe that anyone can be a coach if they are given the right tools. We are looking for coaches who are willing to learn how to build inclusive environments where kids – especially girls – can start their journey with sport.”

Article by Play Academy