Naomi Osaka writes to Play Academy grantee participants
Hello, and welcome to Play Academy with Naomi Osaka. That’s me.
Please know that I’m thinking about you as you start your journey with Play Academy in Tokyo, Los Angeles or Haiti. It’s a journey I’ve thought about a lot as I developed Play Academy, with Nike and Laureus Sport for Good, and which community programs we wanted to support. The best thing about this journey? The destination is entirely up to you.
Play Academy doesn’t exist to develop elite athletes – even if one day you might represent your country at the Olympic Games, or be number one in the world. But what I would tell you if I was there with you today is this: Sport can help you reach your full potential.
That’s what I want for you – to discover everything that sport can unlock inside you.
Did you know today – October 11 – is International Day of the Girl? The United Nations declared this day of observation to recognize the gender inequities girls around the world experience. I know that life is harder for girls, and the opportunities are not the same. In 2021? Come on, we can do something about that.
I believe that sport can help you find your way to those opportunities that might seem out of reach. You’ll find that sport gives you confidence. It’ll teach you leadership and resilience. And it’ll help prepare you for whatever comes your way. And who knows, maybe you can become a role model within your own community for other girls behind you.
Maybe you’re reading this in Japan, where we first launched Play Academy. Did you know girls in Japan aged between 6 and 18 are 20% less likely to participate in sport? By the time they are 15, they drop out of sport at double the rate of boys their age. Yeah, let’s fix that, too.
Perhaps you’re in Haiti, a place so close to my heart, or in Los Angeles, at one of the great programs we will be supporting that serve a diverse group of young people – girls from Black and Brown communities, girls with disabilities and their moms, and girls that have so many unique backgrounds. Because while we can’t work with everyone all at once, we want to change the game for all girls, not just a lucky few.
I know there’s something for you here. I hope it’s a long-lasting participation in the program you are part of. But even if it’s just the idea that sport can help you make better choices and you’ll pick up new skills, then that’s a great place to start.
That’s why I started Play Academy – to help give you a chance to find out where sport will take you. So, pick up the racket; put on your cleats; take the field, or dive into the pool. And know I’m right there with you. Let’s go!