First Coaching Network Program training in Japan tackles gender stereotypes

Two workshop participants doing an exercise
Coaches discussed solutions to gender issues in sports and society ©Hiroki Nishioka

Play Academy with Naomi Osaka got the conversation started in Japan about gender issues in sports.

As part of Play Academy’s newly launched Coaching Network Program earlier this year, the first of three trainings got underway in late May. It saw the 21 participants take a deep dive into the topic of gender and why gender perspective is important in sports.

Led by Rieko Yamaguchi, a professor at Josai University, the group looked at the definition and historical background of gender and discussed the issue within sports and society, as well as the various initiatives that have taken place to address the issue. They analyzed stereotypes and its threats, discussed negative gender stereotypes in sports and actions that can be taken to help eliminate them.

The participants ranged from coaches, active athletes and programs leaders across Play Academy’s four grantee partners and other sport programs across Japan, with some sharing their reflections:

“Today I learned how to face gender with an understanding of the structure of how it is designed, rather than superficially perceiving it. Facing stereotypes is to bring it back to the process and the person who brought up the stereotype.”

“I came away with a greater awareness of gender and the structural problems.”

“I learned a lot from hearing the opinions of people involved in other sports.”

“I was reminded that there are diverse issues that need to be addressed to create a sports environment for girls. I wondered if I might be speaking out about stereotype threat without realizing it.”

“I was able to notice my own unconscious bias and understand why and where it comes from. Don’t just notice, think about how you should act’ from Yamaguchi sensei really hit me.” We hope that the participants were able to gain an insight on gender issues and stereotypes that exist around them and hope to continue our support to taking action through this Gender and Sports Coaching Program.”

Play Academy partnered with S.C.P. Japan to launched the Coaching Network Program for Gender Equality in Sport in March. The aim is to build a more gender-inclusive environment and level the playing field for girls in Japan. Learn more here. The participants have since gathered again at the Laureus Sport for Good Global Summit in London on the theme of Girls Coaching and Gender Equity in Sport.

Article by Play Academy