South African women now have the muscle to empower women in their communities through the power of sport. Nike has launched the Nike Game Changers: Change the Game for Women in Sport which is a competition encouraging people from around the world to showcase their exciting ideas for women in sport in an online open platform at

The global sports brand has joined forces with an organization called Ashoka’s Changemakers, which is an online community that connects people with a passion for a better world with those who are making a lasting difference in their communities

“Nike is proud to sponsor this competition and understands the transformative power of sport. We know there are social innovators around the world doing amazing work in this area,” said Maria Bobenreith, Nike’s Global Director of Let Me Play. “Through the Nike Game Changers competition we are providing an online platform to establish a community of game changers who can showcase their ideas and innovations around empowering women through sport.”

Nike has long been an advocate for empowerment and change in the world of women in sport – whether it was pushing for the inclusion of long distance women’s running events in the Olympics or advancing the power of sport and the transformational role it plays in the lives of girls and women through its Let me Play campaign.

This means that those raising the bar to create more opportunities for women in sport can now take their efforts to a whole new level.

The Nike Game Changers online community is built upon a foundation of action and advocacy through sport and interconnectivity. Innovators from around the world can submit their ideas for social change while contributing to other entries, often resulting in new partnerships and friendships.

“The online competition is driven by idea generation, nomination, digital voting, and blogging, making it organic and relevant to a global community,” states Changemakers’ Executive Director Charlie Brown. “Changemakers is excited to partner with Nike for this second collaboration, honing in on the need to create more powerful opportunities for women in sport.”

The top 10 ideas are chosen by a prominent judging panel including former athletes, celebrities, academics and social entrepreneurs. Members, fans, sports-minded celebrities and athletes then vote on the three most powerful ideas that each win a $5,000 (approx. R50,000) cash prize.

Last year’s competition, called Sport for Social Change, elicited some inspirational programs. One of the winners was Grassroots Soccer in South Africa. Using the power of soccer in the fight against AIDS in South Africa, Grassroots Soccer leveraged soccer’s fanatical popularity to deliver HIV and AIDS prevention education to youth. The youth-led program taps professional soccer players and young people to serve as role models and provides innovative, sports-based curriculum aimed at HIV/AIDS prevention and empowerment. Having directly graduated 195,000 youth from the program throughout Africa, Grassroots Soccer also delivered its services indirectly by training implementation partners around the world.

This year’s online competition launched on November 12, 2008 and will showcase innovative solutions, encouraging members to comment, network and assist one another in making a difference. Submissions close February 11, 2009.
Nike’s encouraging as many people as possible to participate in this initiative. Even if you do not offer a proposal of your own, you’re invited you to join the dialogue. Your experience and insights are invaluable to the emerging field of sport for social change.
Join the online Changemakers community at
to make suggestions and recommend resources that will help refine and strengthen the strategies presented by competition entrants. Tell us what you’re thinking, how you see the field, where its challenges and opportunities lie.
With your help, we have the potential to catalyze change for women through sport and bring real solutions to our most troubling gender specific social problems. You may already be engaged in activities that use sport to change women’s lives in your corner of the world. Now bring this knowledge to a global community. We encourage you to invite others to the competition as well, so together we may uncover the creativity – and natural drive to innovate – within each of us.

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