Three tokyo programmes announced as first grantees of 'Play Academy with Naomi Osaka'

On International Women’s Day, three inspiring Tokyo-based Sport for Development programmes have been announced as the first grantee partners for Play Academy with Naomi Osaka.
Launched as a collaboration between four-time Grand Slam champion Naomi Osaka, Nike and Laureus Sport for Good, Play Academy aspires to level the playing field for girls through the power of sport. The programme, which also received a funding boost late last year via Laureus Global Partner MUFG, invests in fun and positive play experiences through sport, and aims to help girls become positive role models. Naomi’s ability to leverage the support of her partners has been key, with Mastercard, Yonex, BODYARMOR Sports Drink and Levi Strauss & Co. also pledging support of the initiative.
The National Council of YMCAs of Japan, Nadeshiko Care and Ryutsu Keizai University join the Play Academy family as the first in a series of grantee partners to be announced as Play Academy works to achieve those ambitions. Using sport as a catalyst to change girls’ lives, each organization presents a unique offering that collectively ranges across a multitude of sports. To further prepare girls for academic and professional success later in life, these organizations also provide leadership and life skills training and workshops as part of their contribution to achieving gender equality. Through Play Academy with Naomi Osaka, these community organizations will continue to break barriers and level the playing field for girls. 
Working with girls from elementary, junior high and high schools across the country, The National Council of YMCAs of Japan improves girls lives through a broad and diverse network that promotes the development of life skills, academic learning, wellness, community services and problem-solving. Through a variety of sports – such as tennis, running, swimming and cheerleading – The National Council of YMCAs of Japan is helping to develop self-esteem and self-confidence in the young people it serves, which includes those from underserved communities as well as kids with different abilities. 
Ryutsu Keizai University and their attached high school Kashiwa supports girls and young women participating in high school and university rugby clubs. Through rugby, activities, workshops and mentorship from female coaches, the program aims to improve goal-setting, self-confidence and self-awareness, and help empower girls and young women to achieve their goals and become leaders in their communities. 
United by the sport of football, Nadeshiko Care (NadeCare) empowers teenage girls through workshops that provide opportunities to interact with elite athletes, discuss the value of football, and build career plans for on and off the field. Play Academy with Naomi Osaka will help support NadeCare in providing students with workshops, leadership development programming, career seminars and discussions with elite athletes to shape the next generation of leaders.

Play Academy was created to give girls an opportunity to experience the positive impact of sport so I’m excited to welcome our first three grantee programmes to the family. Sport has been a huge part of my life and it makes me proud to know that, through Play Academy, more girls will have the chance to have fun through sport, building confidence, self-esteem and leadership skills for life in the process.

Naomi Osaka
Edwin Moses, Chairman of Laureus Sport for Good, said: “This is an exciting moment for these three inspirational programmes who will now have greater support to change young girls’ lives through sport thanks to Play Academy. Congratulations to Naomi on this significant milestone for Play Academy and thanks to Laureus Global Partner MUFG, Nike, and all the other amazing organisations backing this initiative for their continued support. We’re looking forward to supporting the great work of Play Academy and changing more girls lives through sport.”

As a global partner of Laureus, MUFG is very excited to be supporting this partnership. The goals to which Play Academy with Naomi Osaka aspires, “to change girls’ lives through play and sport” resonates deeply with the goals MUFG and Laureus strive for ‘to create a better world through the power of sport’. MUFG realizes the importance of creating a society where individuals of all backgrounds can succeed no matter their gender, age or race. Collaborating with Laureus Sport for Good, we can communicate this very important message to the world and we are grateful for this opportunity. As a financial company originating in Japan, MUFG also endeavours to become the world’s most trusted financial group, and we are committed to supporting efforts to nurture individuals who are able to fulfil their dreams and succeed regardless of their gender.

MUFG Managing Director of Corporate Planning Division, Akiko Shikimori.
In Japan, Laureus Sport for Good is focused on the use of sport to promote social inclusion and empower young women and girls. Advocating for the work Laureus Sport for Good supports in Japan are Laureus Ambassadors and Olympic stars Dai Tamesue and Yuko Arimori, footballer Shinji Kagawa, gymnastic legend Kohei Uchimura and tennis champion Ai Sugiyama. 
Laureus Sport for Good is a global charity that supports children and young people by using the power of sport to end violence, discrimination, and disadvantage. Over the last 20 years, Laureus Sport for Good has raised more than €150m for the Sport for Development sector, reaching and helping change the lives of more than six million children and young people since 2000. Laureus Sport for Good currently supports more than 200 programmes in over 40 countries that use the power of sport to transform lives.

Email Sign up

Email Sign-up

Sign up for all things Laureus

Get regular updates throughout the year