Game Changers of the Month: Bay Area Women’s Sports Initiative (BAWSI) and the U.S. Soccer Foundation

Game Changers of the Month: Bay Area Women’s Sports Initiative (BAWSI) and the U.S. Soccer Foundation –

Featuring – Count Her In: A Playbook for Youth Sports Programs to Engage Girls

This National Girls and Women in Sports Day (Wednesday, February 1) we’re highlighting fellow Million Coaches Challenge partner, the U.S. Soccer Foundation that recently issued a groundbreaking report – Count Her In: A Playbook for Youth Sports Programs to Engage Girls detailing the unique issues girls face in athletics and the many ways we can collectively remove barriers to play – especially among girls of color in underserved areas. 

Bay Area Women’s Sports Initiative (BAWSI), a 501(c)(3) nonprofit that provides free sports programming to girls in under-resourced communities, was featured in the Report and Kim Turner of the PCA Gender Equity Initiative recently observed BAWSI’s ground-breaking programming in action.

The Count Her In Playbook and game-changing BAWSI programming highlight the strategies that coaches and youth-serving programs can incorporate, such as: 

  1. Partnerships – Collaborate with other entities, such as schools or other community organizations, to increase recruitment, expand capacity, or augment programming
  2. Programming Redesign – Consider changes to program implementation or how coaches coach, such as creating girls’ teams, using new curricula, and offering new coach training
  3. Organizational Changes – Explore changes to a youth sports organization, such as putting women in leadership positions, diversifying the sports entity’s leadership/board, and incorporating gender equity into a strategic plan
  4. Family Engagement – Implement specific efforts to engage parents, caregivers, and siblings as a means to facilitate girls’ participation, such as one-on-one connections or community events
  5. Marketing & Outreach – Advertise the program in ways specifically designed to reach and appeal to girls (especially girls of color), using local events or other community-related outreach efforts.
  6. Women Coach Recruitment – Increase the proportion of women coaches and staff (both paid and volunteer) and provide meaningful experiences inclusive of training and resources​

The report further shares highly effective tips from partners across the U.S., such as: Host a “Bring your Parent/Guardian to Practice” for a practice session where coaches ask girls what skills they most want to teach their parents/caregivers, girls design the practice session, and lead the drills, getting to demonstrate their abilities, plus engage families!

Based on the experiences of staff from 21 girl-serving groups across the country among 14 states, the report notes the successes and challenges, promising practices, and recommendations for youth sports programs seeking to engage more girls in sports in and beyond soccer programming.

Recently spending time with BAWSI coaches and girls, PCA’s Gender Equity Initiative gleaned even more insights on the power of girls and women playing and coaching in under-resourced communities.

Why it matters? By age 14, girls are leaving sports at two times the rate of boys; girls of color are even less likely to participate in sports and more likely to cease playing sports. Yet, there are so many easy, doable ways to welcome girls into play and women into coaching. PCA’s Gender and Racial Equity Initiatives are daily tackling such systemic barriers and partnering with amazing organizations like BAWSI and the U.S. Soccer Foundation to Count Her In!

Explore one or all of the Count Her In strategies today, or in the near future, within your team or program. You can download the U.S. Soccer Foundation Count Her In report, visit the Bay Area Women’s Sports Initiative website to learn more, and check out our Positive Coaching Alliance’s Gender Equity Initiative resources to support women in coaching, girls in sport, and gender equity in youth sports overall.

Want to take further action to count girls in? Join PCA and co-sponsors for an engaging free webinar on Thursday, February 16 (12-1 pm PST) on research-backed tips for what gets and keeps girls in sports!

Sign-Up Here

 **Thanks to PCA allies Diana Cutaia of Coaching Peace and Kelly Jarvis of NPC Research for helping bring Count Her In to life. Photos: BAWSI girls at Washington Elementary during their last practice session of the season; Count Her In Report; BAWSI Coaches Cora and Megan at Washington Elementary; PCA staff seeing BAWSI girls in action!