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ATHENA’S AMBASSADORS ROLE MODELLING WOMEN ATHLETES


 

 

 

Country: Israel

Organisation responsible: Athena – the Professional Department of the National Project for the Advancement of Women in Sports + A number of sports organisations have adopted the "Athena ambassadors" lectures within organisations.

Main topic addressed: Participation - Promoting Israeli women’s sports – awareness and changing social perceptions of women's sport.

Type of resource/practice: Awareness-raising, education


Discipline: Multi-sport

Target group(s): 

  • Athena's stakeholders
  • Boys and girls from age of 10, teenagers, parents of children from age of 6
  • (Young) women athletes

Timing: Ongoing since 2013

Language: Hebrew, English and Arabic

Brief description of the practice: The Athena's Ambassadors programme is implemented by giving lectures/presentations throughout the country.
Most of the lectures take place during the day, in elementary and high schools. In addition, there are many lectures for other audiences – such as parents, teachers, coaches etc.
The lectures are accompanied by presentations with the same structure and branded by "Athena" (beyond the personal story of the presenter). The lecture contains clear messages, that are consistent with the goals of the programme.

The Ambassadors’ Messages: The Athena ambassadors' messages are determined by the age and type of their target audience. They focus on overcoming barriers that prevent young girls from becoming professionally involved in sports. These obstacles also hold their parents back from sending them to such activities. Social, health and mental benefits are described, highlighting the "added values" sports activities offer to girls. They emphasise the full, balanced life of a high-level athlete - sports combined with school, social and family life. The values of Athena’s sport: health, teamwork, excellence, integrity, fair play, respect, etc.
In addition, it supports the development of women's leadership,
Athena’s Ambassadors are part of the process of changing social perceptions and influencing young women athletes in any sport.

Content and objectives: 

  • Social perceptual change regarding women in sports - communicate with the community/stakeholder as part of promoting social dialogue,
  • Breaking stereotypes - removing obstacles standing in the way of young girls and women on their path towards professional sports,
  • Creating role models in women’s sports in Israel - labelling leading women athletes in the same way male athletes are portrayed all over the world,
  • Raising awareness about the importance of competitive sports contributing to overall personal and professional success in life,
  • Promoting female leaders in the world of sports.

Steps/activities of the practice: 

The stages of the project:

  • Identifying successful elite women athletes according to pre-defined criteria,
  • Approval and recommendation of the relevant sport associations and federation,
  • Preparation of the selected athletes by the programme director,
  • two training workshops with a sports psychologist who accompanies the programme,
  • Creating the professional presentation branded by Athena,
  • Simulation of lectures by the selected athletes, with feedback from the programme manager,
  • Lectures in front of the audience and written feedback from the target audience.

Resources required: 

  • Payment for the ambassadors' lectures (the ambassadors are not volunteers) all lectures are fully subsidised,
  • Preparatory workshops for the selected ambassadors,
  • Public relations working around the Ambassadors programme: Invitation to TV campaigns / interviews and more…
  • A sports psychologist accompanies the programme,
  • Survey / feedback on the effectiveness of the ambassadors' activities,
  • A graphic specialising in the field of presentation for the preparation of branded presentations,
  • The ambassadors receive shirts and tops branded by Athena,
  • The lecture takes place only in a hall, including audiovisual technical support,
  • The threshold conditions for receiving a lecture increased from 30 to 80 people,

Achievements and outcomes: Since 2012 there has been a significant increase in the demand for lectures and the target audience.

Challenges and limitations: 

  • Low budget relative to the high demand in recent years, although we are raising the annual budget plan every year.
  • Difficulty to examine the outcome and effects of the programme on social change.
  • Order/Booking a lecture and selecting the ambassador are done through the website, the system needs improvement.
  • Between February and April, it is difficult to fulfill the high number of requests.
  • Every organisation is limited to ordering only one lecture per current year with a minimum of 80 participants per lecture.
  • Elite athletes who are participating in an Olympic campaign leave the programme a year and aa half before the Olympic Games due their busy training program.
  • We train a new group of ambassadors every two years.

Follow-up ideas and future plans: 

  • In the future, the programme should be partially subsidised in order to allow further expansion of the activities and ambassadors.
  • Expansion of the programme to primary and secondary schools.
  • Ambassadors would also participate in physical education classes.
  • Lectures to teachers in "teachers' rooms".
  • Integrate the ambassador's lectures into the business community as part of the athlete's exposure to the business world as a "woman role model".
  • Athena Brand: accessories/merchandise (notebooks, shirts, bracelets, etc.) distributed in the lectures

Further information: http://www.athenawomen.org.il/en/athena-ambassadors/

Links to the promotion videos: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bYe6PwwbjEg and https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IcsWu-9imFs

Contact person: Ofri Yakir, supervisor, ofri@athenawomen.org.il


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