A new campaign has been launched to encourage more girls in the D.C. area to participate in sports, and the first step is to help girls in underserved communities get what they need to play the game.
The Washington Mystics, Washington Spirit, the women’s professional football team D.C. Divas and the pro Frisbee team D.C. Shadow are banding together to form the Washington Coalition of Women’s Professional Sports.
“It’s important to put a spotlight on women in sport, and it’s important to keep on speaking up for equality,” said Mayor Muriel Bowser at the formal kickoff of the coalition at Audi Field Wednesday night, where the Spirit battled the North Carolina Courage to a 2-2 draw in the NWSL Challenge Cup.
The coalition plans to offer support for all women’s sports programs and to champion girls’ participation in sports.
“By the age of 14, girls are dropping out of sport at a rate six times greater than boys … when girls drop out of sports, they’re missing out on the health benefits both physical and mental, but they’re also really missing out on some of the life lessons that we gain through sports, things like teamwork and goal-setting,” Alycen McAuley, Washington Mystics senior vice president, said.
For its first initiative, the coalition is partnering with area nonprofit Leveling the Play Field, which collects and redistributes used and new sports equipment in underserved communities. The first effort is to provide the nonprofit with 5,000 sports bras.
“This sports bra collecting drive — it’s not a minor thing. I can tell you that coaches, athletic directors, people who work within the sports community — this is one of the most in-demand items that we hear about, season after season,” said Kaitlin Brennan, director of operations for Leveling the Playing Field.