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Through team sports, people learn important life lessons that can have a positive influence beyond athletics. Through sports, people learn discipline; persistence; respect and teamwork. Professional athletes and coaches believe that these values can help someone be the best they can be, and achieve success beyond the sports arena.

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Youth athletes in basketball training.

E-Sports International, a sports architecture and wellness solutions company, believes in using sports as a vehicle for empowerment and values formation. The company partnered with Girls Got Game, an organization whose mission is to improve young women’s futures through sports and the values they teach.

According to E-Sports Sales Associate Lia Calingacion, “I grew up playing basketball and other sports. In my own experience, I know that playing team sports infuses you with values that you don’t get from other activities. You need to be a team player, and a leader at the same time. GGG’s mission really resonated with us at E-Sports and we were excited to help them achieve their mission.”

Building Confidence Through Sports 

Girls Got Game co-founders Krizanne Ty and Nikka Arcilla were inspired to help young women because of Girl Effect, an organization which believes that one of the most effective ways of ending the cycle of poverty is by helping girls achieve their full potential. As Nikka put it, “When you help a girl, you help the entire community.”

Founders of Girls Got Game Philippines, Inc.

Founders Krizanne and Nikka during the event at Santolan

As former student athletes, the two believe that playing sports can help keep young girls on the right track because of the values it can teach them, such as discipline, resilience, hard work, and setting goals. So they pitched the idea of Girls Got Game to their friends and network, and started the organization in 2014.

E-Sports was a donor at their most recent camp, held last April 9, 2016 at the Santolan Elementary School in Pasig City. Participants were 10- to 12-year-old girls from low-income families with no background in sports. The coaches divided the girls into teams and taught them the basics of the three featured sports: football, basketball, and volleyball.

To gamify the entire experience and teach the girls how a real game feels like, they held competitions for each sport, and awarded points. At the end of the camp, the points are tallied, and the girls with the highest points get awards.

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One of the young female athletes perfecting her shooting skills

It’s Not Just about the Game

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Coach talks to the team about their next strategy

By hosting sports camps, GGG hopes to infuse girls with empowerment and values education. “For many of them, this is their first time actually kicking a football and shooting a basketball. We know they won’t be experts [by the end of the camp], but we want to leave them with the skills, leave them with the values. Sports is our way of making sure that our girls are able to feel empowered.”

The values they highlight differ with each camp, and the GGG team talks to barangay officials or teachers to find out which ones will have the most impact on the girls. For their sports camp at the Santolan Elementary School, for example, the theme was Katatagan at Disiplina (will and discipline).

“Everyone on the Girls Got Game core team came from a team sports background, so we know we can learn discipline and perseverance from sports,” explains Nikka.

To emphasize these values, GGG invited former Ateneo de Manila University (ADMU) student athletes to share their stories of discipline and perseverance. Danica Caynap talked about how discipline allowed her to overcome an impoverished childhood and become team captain of the Lady Eagles basketball team. Gely Tiu, who was always benched because of her short stature, persevered to become the top goalkeeper of the Ateneo women’s football team, before eventually becoming its team captain and now one of its coaches.

Dunking Stereotypes

GGG’s sports camps also teach participants that sports is for everyone. “While the boys are out playing basketball or kicking around a soccer ball, many girls stay indoors,” says Nikka. “They’re not into sports, because I think they’ve been taught that physical activities are only for boys. And that’s actually the barrier for why these girls aren’t doing sports. We’ve learned that if you want to get them into sports, they just need to be surrounded by female role models. They need to see other older girls doing it, and realize, ‘O, kaya ko naman pala.’

But equally important is creating an environment where they can feel safe to explore new sports, hence the all-girls setup: “The confidence is lost when they’re playing against boys, and they feel like, ‘Oh, I’ll just give them the ball.’ So we’re creating an atmosphere that builds confidence. They see the value of seeing ate figures playing sports with them; that women can be independent and strong…because it’s different when a girl is calling the shots.”

Positive Outcome

While the organization has only been around for two years, GGG has already seen encouraging results. They have already received plenty of good publicity and support, so much so that schools now approach them about holding a sports camp for their female students.

But more importantly, some of the girls approach them to say they want to start their own football club or be a GGG coach when they grow up. When this happens, Girls Got Game introduces the girls to sports associations, giving these budding athletes a support network that can help them develop their newfound passion for athletics.

Young athletes playing basketball

GGG’s young athletes with their eyes on the ball

What’s Next for Girls Got Game?

In the future, GGG also plans to incorporate more types of sports, such as muay thai and baseball. But according to co-founder Krizanne, they want to perfect the program first before expanding its offerings.

As with other nonprofits, GGG also requires help to continue doing its mission. The group is always looking for volunteers, who can serve as team captains, coaches, or members for their logistics team. Sponsorship is also welcome, whether personal or corporate.

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Lia from E-Sports is also an active team member of Girls Got Game

As for Lia, it’s not that surprising that she’s now officially part of the Girls Got Game core team.  “I met up with them to formalize the donation. That’s the time they asked me if I can join GGG. I now help out with logistics, ice, water, food, preparation…everything!” According to her, E-Sports is looking forward to partnering with more sports advocacy organizations in the future.

E-Sports hopes to build and expand a community for sports that uplift and empower athletes, especially the underprivileged, that’s why they want to continue helping sports charities. According to E-Sports General Manager Pamela Romualdez, “we believe that sports is a powerful pathway for individual empowerment. We will continue to partner with sports advocacy programs and encourage other companies to do the same as well.”

Learn more about Girls Got Game and their programs on their website, Instagram, and Facebook.

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