Women’s sports is one of the best investments, according to Nike.And they have a long history of supporting its female athletes in and out of competition. Following the leadership of Tanya Hvizdak, Nike’s vice-president of women’s global sports marketing, the Oregon-based company invited athletes for unfiltered feedback. Hvizdak mentioned: “We opened up the conversation to hear their insights and help inform where we can be better. We specifically asked how they believe sport can move the world forward, how we can help break barriers to sport, and how we can better leverage their input and ideas.”
After this collaboration, they identified some of the most significant steps to improve the future of women’s sports:
- The importance of finances to create more inclusive environments in women’s sports
- Valuing purpose as much as performance
- Supporting programs and scholarships that help female athletes overcome challenges and barriers.
Whitney Malkiel, Global VP/GM of Nike Woman, said, “We initiated the Nike Athlete Think Tank to turn insights into action. Our greatest strength has always been our partnerships with the world’s best individual athletes. For the first time, we’ve united a collective of female icons that span across sports and countries to help us shape strategies that will improve the experience of all girls and women in sport.”
The athletes are Serena Williams, Ada Hegerberg, Angela Davis, Bebe Vio, Dina Asher-Smith, Deyna Castellanos, Ibtihaj Muhammad, Nafissatou Thiam, Sabrina Ionescu, Scout Bassett, Shalane Flanagan, Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce, and Simone Manuel.
In addition to sharing their experience and insight, the 13 founding member athletes will identify community organizations worldwide. And here is where Nike, in partnership with CAF America (Charities Aid Foundation America), will fund $1.3 million across 20 grants on their behalf. This grant will be split among the 13 athletes so they can give it to an organization in their name. In a statement, Nike announced: “Serena Williams identified the Boys and Girls Clubs of Palm Beach County, while Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce suggested her Pocket Rocket Foundation based in Kingston, Jamaica. Sabrina Ionescu highlighted the Mamba & Mambacita Sports Foundation, and Shalane Flanagan spotlighted both Marathon Kids and Amputee Blade Runners.”
Venezuelan football player said: “The Nike Athlete Think Tank represents so much of what I believe in, especially on the impact this incredible group of women can have on fighting for gender equality in sport. Together, we are challenging and changing the world.”
23-time Grand Slams winner Serena Williams mentioned: “The Nike Athlete Think Tank is a collective dedicated to amplifying the voices of women athletes. Because women and girls don’t have equal access to play and sport, we teamed up to share our experiences and turn insights into action and fight for gender equality. Our ultimate goal is to empower the next generation of women in sport.”
Norwegian Golden Ball winner Ada Hegerberg expressed: “I know sport can be such a game changer to help young girls believe in themselves and gain confidence. Nike Athlete Think Tank is bringing us together to fight for gender equity in sport.”
Nike plans to continue the Nike Athlete Think Tank by inviting more women to collaborate; Hvizdak finished: “We look forward to continuing this work with not only these 13 athletes, but with our other women athletes in the future.”