Play Academy with Naomi Osaka, an initiative to change girls’ lives through play and sport, is pleased to welcome 12 grassroot programs to its 2024 grant cycle.
The recipients span across Haiti, Los Angeles and the Japan cities of Osaka and Tokyo, and feature a range of community programs using sport to make a positive impact on the lives of youth. The grants will support their efforts in creating inclusive and safe spaces for girls to participate. In opening up more opportunities for girls to get moving, Play Academy aims to increase the participation of girls in sports and help level the playing field for the next generation.
Last year, Play Academy expanded funding to the tennis player’s birthplace in Osaka, Japan. This 2024 cycle sees a growth of the Play Academy family by welcoming three new grantees (General Incorporated Association Junk Baseball Club, NPO J Camp, General Incorporated Association Tokyo Sports Lab) and one returning (Incorporated Educational Institution Nittsu Gakuen) in Tokyo.
Naomi Osaka, who gave birth to her daughter last July, said: “I know many times I’ve talked about the role tennis has played in my life, and how I’ve grown and developed through the opportunities it’s given me. Now, having returned to the tennis courts in 2024, I’m also thinking of my daughter and what role sport can play in her life. I’m thinking of the next generation of girls and how they can have opportunities to play, have fun and see where it takes them. And the programs that Play Academy supports are key in making this impact.”
“Play Academy is entering its fourth year, and just as excited as I was to play tennis again, I’m as excited to see how Play Academy can work together with its grantee partners to lower the barriers in sports that girls face, get them active and keep them playing.”– Naomi Osaka
MEET THE 2024 GRANTEES
Global Outreach And Love of Soccer (GOALS Haiti) is a returning grantee of Play Academy that provides education, health and life skills to kids and young people in rural Haiti.
Beat the Streets Los Angeles (BTSLA) is on its second grant cycle with Play Academy with the aim of empowering and transforming the lives of youth through wrestling.
Kids Enjoy Exercise Now Los Angeles (KEEN LA) is another returning grantee on a mission to empower youth with disabilities and impact volunteer coaches through sports.
Pete Brown Jr. Tennis Program (PBJTP) serves the South Central LA neighborhood by providing a safe and positive place for young people to learn and excel in tennis.
Incorporated Educational Institution Momoyama Gakuin/University of Education (Momoyama) is Play Academy’s lone grantee in the city of Osaka. The Momoyama Gakuin University of Education has been developing a program that provides girls sport clubs in neighboring schools with trained student coaches.
General Incorporated Association Junk Baseball Club joins the Play Academy family for the first time with the goal to enrich lives through baseball.
NPO J Camp receives its first Play Academy grant to support its wheelchair basketball programming.
NPO Monkey Magic is an organization that provides climbing opportunities for people with a disability and this year will hone in more on empowering women and girls.
Incorporated Educational Institution Nittsu Gakuen (Nittsu Gakuen) operates Ryutsu Keizai University (RKU) and its affiliated RKU Kashiwa High School. It returns as a grantee to continue building the RKU HERS rugby program that started through funding from Play Academy.
General Incorporated Association Tokyo Sports Cross Lab is joining Play Academy for the first time to build on its vision of a society where everyone can be healthy and happy by connecting the world through sports.
NPO Yamato Sylphid Sports Club (Yamato Sylphid) is a sports club that will deliver soccer-based sessions and workshops focused on girls empowerment.
SPOCOM, Inc. is local social enterprise in Tokyo whose Youth Empowerment Program supports both girls and boys to shine in their own way through lacrosse.
WHAT IS PLAY ACADEMY?
Play Academy is led by multi-Grand Slam champion Naomi Osaka in partnership with NIKE, Inc. and Laureus Sport for Good, alongside other corporate partners. It aims to level the playing field for girls by increasing their participation in sport by investing in fun, positive play experiences that invite young women to become role models, and training coaches to create more inclusive play and sport environments.
First launched in 2020, Play Academy has since supported 15 programs across its three focus regions of Haiti, Los Angeles and Japan, all places where Naomi Osaka – also a two-time Laureus World Sports Award winner – has a close connection to.
To learn more about Play Academy and how to get involved, visit playacademynaomi.com.