February 6, 2019, marked the 33rd annual National Girls & Women in Sports Day, a national observance celebrating the extraordinary achievements of women and girls in sports. The theme for this year’s NWGSD was “Lead Her Forward”. This phrase represents the confidence, strength and empowerment that women need to become leaders in sport.
Soccer in the Streets hosted an NWGSD at StationSoccer - West End where a group of twenty soccer players joined forces. These young female athletes were introduced to a panel of empowering women who are leaders in the sports industry.
Pharlone Toussaint, the Atlanta Program Officer for the Laureus Foundation, reflected on her experiences in the sports industry.
“As a young woman in sport-related roles, I had to stop thinking that I wasn’t welcome and I wasn’t valued,” Toussaint said. “Those were not things I ever received from anyone but external sources that I had never met or never have come into direct contact with. I have had a number of overwhelming champions in the sports industry and a lot of them were men.”
Women face problems in a male-dominated sports industry. These successful female leaders have now reconstructed their beliefs on gender inequality in sport. Becoming role models for the younger athletes shows enthusiasm to make all-sports equal.
“The sooner I was able to deconstruct gender inequality in sport and accept the help that was clearly coming my way, the sooner I unlocked more doors to my success,” said Toussaint.
After years of working in the sports industry, Lucy Rushton, a Data Analyst for Atlanta United, realized her worth on the MLS team.
“I was never going to make it as a professional player, and being a woman, my opportunities to get into professional soccer were limited, to begin with. So, I saw data analysis as an amazing way to be involved in the game, being able to impact performance while not directly playing and coaching,” said Rushton.
NGWSD highlights women leaders all around the world influencing young athletes to be motivated and empowered in their sport’s industry. Soccer in the Streets supports all the women leaders who shine a light on gender-equality.
Rushton spoke on how she felt she has succeeded. “As a woman working in sport, or one wanting to work in sport, you have to make it happen. You have to be proactive and go out there and get what you want. But if you want it enough and you believe in yourself, you will find that the doors are open and that you can succeed and you do belong,” said Rushton.
Link to NGWSD 2018’s blog- https://bit.ly/2GBajrU