AN EQUITABLE PLAYING FIELD: THE ADIDAS BREAKING BARRIERS PROJECT
Access to sports is not equal for all — and it’s all too often women and girls who are left on the sidelines. Playing against lack of access and representation, cultural stigma, and self-doubt, girls drop out of sports at a much greater rate than boys of the same age. With this in mind, adidas created the Breaking Barriers Project to level the playing field and make sports equal for all.
The adidas Breaking Barriers Project isn’t just a campaign — it’s a commitment to the current and future generations of girls. adidas is dedicated to breaking down these systemic barriers across Europe by working with nonprofit organizations, local coaches, and leaders.
When the Project kicked off in 2020, adidas initially committed to supporting 15 nonprofit organizations, empowering 100 Breaking Barriers Champions, and impacting the lives of 50,000 girls within five years. Now, in the Project’s fourth year, adidas has already met the first two of these goals and continues to expand opportunities to make sports equal for everyone.
THE BREAKING BARRIERS PROJECT PASSES THE BALL TO NONPROFITS
To truly have an impact across Europe, the adidas Breaking Barriers Project looked for ways to enhance organizations and systems that were already in place, partnering with sports organizations to carry out the Project in their local communities. These partners undergo capacity building, training, and mentoring exercises to improve gender equity within their organizations – becoming recognized leaders within the sports community for gender equity.
Breaking Barriers Champions are then selected from within the non-profit partners; local women ambassadors who are chosen to lead gender equity development in the organizations and communities.
Since the beginning of the Project, adidas has enhanced the work of more than 100 Champions.
INNOVATING ACROSS EUROPE TO PUSH THE BOUNDARIES OF GENDER EQUITY
As part of expanding the work of the Breaking Barriers Project, the team launched the Innovation Lab in collaboration with Paris&Co — a dynamic startup incubator that supports women-led or women-centric organizations and entrepreneurs in removing the barriers that hold back women and girls in sports.
The Innovation Lab invites young companies throughout Europe to apply to receive support, training, and funding, and join an engaged community of like-minded individuals who are changing the future for women and girls.
The first year of the Innovation Lab included Sportiw, along with Wild AI, Manita, The Well HQ, Douchlib, and Sporty Peppers. The Innovation Lab aims to expand positive business and increase the impact of results for each startup.
INCLUSIVE LEARNING OPPORTUNITIES AROUND THE WORLD
In addition to amplifying the work of nonprofits and local leaders in their communities, the Breaking Barriers team wanted to expand the reach of the Project globally. Changing the game for everyone meant creating resources for anyone to use, worldwide, to kickstart their journey in gender equity.
Out of this goal came the adidas Breaking Barriers Academy: a free, online educational platform to increase the understanding of inclusion in sports.
The adidas Breaking Barriers Academy gives coaches and leaders everywhere the ability to change lives, inspiring progress in their own communities. With courses covering equity and inclusion on and off the pitch, this toolkit helps leaders, coaches, and athletes create safer spaces for women and girls.
LOOKING AHEAD TO A FUTURE WITH NO BARRIERS
While the progress is positive, the challenges women and girls face are still very real, and we must break those barriers together.
The adidas Breaking Barriers team is thrilled to report that in the fourth year of the Project, there are great strides being made for girls and women in sports. Over 45,000 girls across Europe have had the opportunity to participate in sports as a result of the Project, and adidas is committed to continuing to make sport equal.
👉 Join us in our mission to make sport equal for everyone and become a catalyst for change with the adidas Breaking Barriers Academy.