When she’s not winning tennis titles and breaking records, Naomi Osaka is committed to changing lives of girls through sport. Now the Nike athlete and tennis star has teamed up with Laureus Sport for Good to foster that mission by launching a Play Academy to increase the participation of girls in sports.

The program emphasizes fun, positive play experiences with coaches who are trained in gender inclusivity. Osaka, who was born in Japan but lives in Florida, said in an op-ed on Nike’s news site that the program’s aim is to “level the playing field by changing the game for girls.”

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Sport taught me from an early age that I can do anything, and I know that it can open up a world of opportunity for other girls, too. That’s why I’m so excited to team up with @nike and @laureussport to launch Play Academy – a grassroots sports program just for girls, starting in Tokyo. I’m excited for the girls to have fun and learn new skills, because you never know where it might take you. I also hope sport will teach them that you don’t have to fit into a box, you can create your own lane. I can’t wait for Play Academy to show girls (and the world) just how powerful they can be. Head to my stories for more info ❤️ 子どもの時から、スポーツをすることで私は何でもできると学びました。スポーツは世界に広がるたくさんの機会を女の子に与えてくれるはず。@nike と@laureussport とパートナーシップを組んで、東京から女の子のためのグラスルーツプログラム「プレー·アカデミー」を設立することにとてもワクワクしています。未来はどうなるか誰にもわからないから、このプログラムを通して女の子たちが楽しく、新しいスキルを学べたらいいな。スポーツを通じて、自分は決まった型にはまらなくもいい、自分の道を切り開くことができると感じて欲しい。プレー·アカデミーで女の子たち、そして世界に、みんながどれだけのパワーを持っているのか知ってもらうのが楽しみ。私のストーリーに、より詳しい情報があります ❤️

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“The more I learned about the barriers that girls face in getting active, the more determined I felt to do something about it,” Osaka said in the op-ed. “I started talking with people who could help—people who understand just how much sport and play can mean for a girl who’s still finding her own place in this big world.”

Osaka concluded, “I can’t wait to get started with Play Academy. I hope that the girls will learn new skills, maybe discover a new favorite sport because you never know where it might take you. But I also hope that they will have fun, gain confidence and realize just how powerful girls can be—no matter who you are, where you’re from or what color your skin. Who knows? Maybe someday, they’ll look around and realize that they’ve become role models for others too.”

The program will launch in Tokyo and award grants to help build community organizations by inviting young women to become role models.

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