Nike partnered with tennis star Naomi Osaka and Laureus Sport for Good to start a new grassroots sports program, Play Academy with Naomi Osaka, designed to train and inspire girls through sport. The program will start in Tokyo.

Osaka, who was born in Japan but lives in Florida, said in an op-ed on Nike’s news site that the program’s aim is to “level the playing field by changing the game for girls.”

“The more I learned about the barriers that girls face in getting active, the more determined I felt to do something about it,” Osaka said in the op-ed. “I started talking with people who could help — people who understand just how much sport and play can mean for a girl who’s still finding her own place in this big world.”

She concluded, “I can’t wait to get started with Play Academy. I hope that the girls will learn new skills, maybe discover a new favorite sport because you never know where it might take you. But I also hope that they will have fun, gain confidence and realize just how powerful girls can be — no matter who you are, where you’re from or what color your skin. Who knows? Maybe someday, they’ll look around and realize that they’ve become role models for others too.”

Photo courtesy Play Academy