In a story published in The Globe and Mail, Canadian gold-medal Olympian in cross country skiing, Chandra Crawford has entered the MBA program at the University of Calgary's Haskayne School of Business. Ms. Crawford, who won gold in cross-country skiing at the 2006 Turin Games and seven World Cup medals (two of them gold) in her 14-year skiing career, saw the MBA program as a way to hone her social entrepreneurship expertise as founder of Fast and Female, which is an international program to develop initiatives that will entice more girls to get into and stay in sports.
Chandra set up the non-profit Fast and Female organization in 2005 to encourage girls and women aged 9 to 19 to stick with competitive sports instead of bowing out, as many do, in their teens. The hope, she says, "is that 25 years from now, girls will stay in sports through their teens and we will have a big pool to draw on for Olympic sports."
The Fast and Female organization offers day camps and other opportunities for participants – nearly 9,000 in Canada, the United States and other countries to rub shoulders with Olympic and other elite women athletes.
Prior to the official start of school, Chandra submitted her first assignment – an assessment of their own businesses – that gave her insights into her organization. "If we can create a strong business in terms of Fast and Female, then it will continue to serve girls into the future," Chandra said.
The Fast and Female program cites that girls have 1.3 million fewer opportunities to play high school sports than boys have. Lack of physical education in schools and limited opportunities to play sports in both high school and college mean girls have to look elsewhere for sports –which may not exist or may cost more money. Often there is an additional lack of access to adequate playing facilities near their homes that makes it more difficult for girls to engage in sports.
Despite recent progress, discrimination based on the real or perceived sexual orientation and gender identity of female athletes persists. Girls in sports may experience bullying, social isolation, negative performance evaluations, or the loss of their starting position. During socially fragile adolescence, the fear of being tagged "gay" is strong enough to push many girls out of the game.
As girls grow up, the quality level of their sports experience may decline. The facilities are not as good as the boys' venues and the playing times may not be optimal. The availability of quality, trained coaches may be lacking in their community or these coaches may be more focused on the boys' programs that have more money for training. Equipment and even uniforms aren't funded for many girls' programs at the same levels as boys so their ability to grow and enjoy the sport is diminished. In short, sports just aren't "fun" any more.
School sports budgets are being slashed every day. Fewer opportunities within schools mean families must pay to play in private programs while also footing the bill for expensive coaches, equipment and out-of-pocket travel requirements.
Today's girls are bombarded with images of external beauty, not those of confident, strong female athletic role models. To some girls, fitting within the mold that they are constantly told to stay in is more important than standing out. Peer pressure can be hard for girls at any age; when that pressure isn't offset with strong encouragement to participate in sports and healthy physical activity, the results may lead girls to drop out altogether.
Fast and Female works to develop initiatives that will entice more girls to get into and stay in sports. Programs developed are centered on experience-based programming and informational and educational programming.
National Fast and Female Summits: The Fast and Female Summits offer girls, parents and coaches an ultimate day of inspiration and education to help boost girls' involvement and participation in all sports. Led by illustrious female Olympians, Summit events involve activities to stimulate the minds, bodies and souls of aspiring champions. The programming also includes sessions for parents and coaches by leading sports, nutrition, physiology and psychology experts.
Regional Fast and Female Champ Chats: Regional Fast and Female Champ Chats are sport-specific, half day events led by female Olympians and focused on female youth between ages 9 to 19 years old. Each Champ Chat includes an active component plus an inspirational presentation by the lead female ambassador.
Customized Fast and Female Training Clinics: Fast and Female also offers customized training clinics and camps for clubs or teams and works with the team coaches to develop the most inspiring and effective camp for girls. A network of experts in the realm of physiology, nutrition and psychology across the country, clubs and teams can create novel experiences for their athletes.
INFORMATIONAL AND EDUCATIONAL PROGRAMMING
The Fast and Female Resource Centre is where many useful links concerning female athlete specific content is posted. The Resources Centre has the latest information on psychology, nutrition, physiology, coaching, and parenting of the female athlete.
Fast and Female TV has many short clips and interviews featuring a variety of individuals who contribute to telling the powerful and positive stories concerning girls in sports. The Fast and Female newsletter is published monthly to keep girls informed on the latest and greatest things concerning Fast and Female and girls in sports!
For more information, click http://www.fastandfemale.com/