14/10-2021GAME x adidas Breaking Barriers Project: Together in breaking down barriers in sports to attract girls and LGBTI+ individuals

Although the world of sports strives to become more inclusive, gender still creates barriers which deter girls and LGBTI+ individuals from entering and staying in sports and active communities. To ensure broad inclusion in sports GAME is now part of the adidas Breaking Barriers Project that sets out to find ways to make sports communities inclusive and safe for girls and LGBTI+ individuals, by enhancing the capacity of the sports system to serve women, girls, and non-binary individuals 

The existence of gender inequality in sports is well documented. According to WHO, 85 percent of adolescent girls globally do not meet the current recommendations of physical activity. Also, girls with minority backgrounds have a significantly lower participation rate in sports than their peers. Furthermore, 81 percent of LGBTI+ individuals do not feel safe and included while doing sports. 


“It is not enough to think about diversity” 

GAME has been working with equity and equality as the backbone of the mission since the organization’s start-up in Denmark in 2002. To ensure even broader inclusion GAME is taking     part in the adidas Breaking Barriers project, aiming to augment what GAME already does regarding female empowerment and safe spaces for sports.  

“It is not enough to think about diversity in our activities as simply making room in the already existing ones. We need to create new sports ecosystems whose core are based around the mindset of inclusion and diversity. The adidas Breaking Barriers project provides the opportunity to broaden our understanding of gender equity considerations right across our organization and gives us a working blueprint towards a more inclusive and equitable society,” says Laura Bendix, Innovation Officer in GAME. 

In the adidas Breaking Barriers project, selected GAME staff and Playmakers, who are volunteers that run the weekly practices, acquire tools and knowledge on how to work with gender equity and diversity as an effective tool to create inclusive and lasting social change. GAME takes part in the project together with other likeminded Sports for Development NGOs; La Rotllana from Spain and Street League from the United Kingdom. 


New knowledge on girls
One of the selected GAME Playmakers is 24-year-old Maymi Asgari. She is running weekly street football practices for girls in Gellerupparken Aarhus, where she grew up herself. 

“We grew up in a vulnerable housing area where not many girls play sports. So, it is great to get some knowledge on how to change that through this project,” says Maymi Asgari. 

 Together with volunteer coaches from the other European organisations, Maymi Asgari and her five GAME Playmaker colleagues are working towards becoming what’s known as adidas Breaking Barriers Champions; Female role models and leaders with intricate knowledge on how to create inclusive and safe spaces for girls on the asphalt and how to support them to best reach their utmost potential. 

Results are already showing
Throughout the program the six GAME Playmakers are introduced to an array of topics such as leadership typology, microaggressions and motivational coaching. And the GAME Playmakers are already seeing the results. 

“For a long time, I’ve been interested in girl’s participation in football. It’s awesome to be working towards greater female participation in sports. I have already started to think about how I am as a leader, coach and role model by attending the Breaking Barriers project,” says Iben Elmerdahl, one of the Playmakers leading GAME Girl Zone trainings in the GAME House in Copenhagen. 

By 2022 the GAME Playmakers will assemble their newfound knowledge, skills and inspirations and create sports communities and activities with focus on gender equity and diversity in sports. Also, the GAME staff will develop and implement a Gender Action Plan targeting organisational change that will better serve the women and LGBTI+ individuals working, volunteering, and participating in GAME’s programmes and activities.