TORONTO, Ont. (March 8, 2021) – Today on International Women’s Day, Canada Basketball launched Mad Love, a cross-channel awareness campaign, to inspire and rally Canadians together for female athletes in basketball and beyond. The initial phase will showcase letters written by the country’s Senior Women’s National team that challenge and change Canadians’ perceptions of girls’ and women’s basketball in the lead-up to the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games, which was rescheduled for this summer.
“Mad Love provides encouragement to everyone who has big dreams and goals that may seem insurmountable,” said Glen Grunwald, President & CEO of Canada Basketball. “We believe that this campaign not only celebrates the stars of our Senior Women’s National Team program but also recognizes the critical role that each of them play in inspiring our country’s next generation of female leaders, both on and off the court.”
Gender inequity in sport has a long history and basketball is not immune. Despite the sport making its Olympic debut for men in 1936, it took until 1976 for women’s basketball to take the court at the Summer Olympics in Montreal. However, basketball is currently the most participated team sport amongst girls in Canada between ages 12 to 17 and the Senior Women’s National Team is ranked a program-high fourth in the world.
Across Canada, we’ve witnessed an alarming trend in the decline in sport participation among adolescent girls with a 22 per cent difference in the participation rates between girls age 9 to 11 and those age 15 to 18. Additionally, research published in The Rally Report by Canadian Women & Sport shows that if a girl doesn’t participate in sport by the age of 10, there is only a 10 per cent chance that she will be physically active by age 25.
“The greatest female athletes have persevered adversity with mad love, rising above their circumstances with conviction,” said Kia Nurse, WNBA All-Star and member of Canada’s Senior Women’s National Team. “But, for every professional female athlete, many women never get an equal opportunity to play a fair game. It’s time to change the rules so that every girl with a love for the game can play without prejudice, injustice or inequality.”
Canada Basketball is committed to keeping girls and women in sport and will work to level the court and provide equal opportunity and experience for all participants. Thanks to a generous donation from the Lake Family’s All One Fund to the Canada Basketball Foundation, the organization will match cumulative donations up to $120,000 to invest in programming specific to our next generation of female basketball players, coaches and officials. Funds raised will directly help Canada Basketball launch the first girls Junior Academy program later this year, which will address a gap in the organization’s current program offerings.
Junior Academy is a part of Canada Basketball’s Targeted Athlete Strategy (TAS) program which was started in 2009. Through excellent coaching and programming, the academy program’s goal is to provide athletes with an opportunity to train and develop in a high-performance environment, while addressing a gap in the athlete’s developmental pathway between the Learn-to-Train and Train-to-Train stages of the Long-Term Athlete Development (LTAD) model.
As part of their strategic partnership in growing the game of basketball in the country, MLSE developed the Mad Love campaign in conjunction with Canada Basketball.
“Equity, diversity and inclusion has been a focus for us all over the past ten months and we have to make sure that gender equity is always an important part of that conversation,” said Masai Ujiri, President of the Toronto Raptors. “That diversity has made our organization stronger and it makes our game stronger. We are proud to celebrate the ‘Mad Love’ of these talented and committed women in partnership with Canada Basketball, and at the same time, to inspire every young girl to chase their dreams.”
Canada Basketball and the Canada Basketball Foundation continues to explore additional programs and opportunities to ensure that girls and women of all ages have equal access and opportunities to stay in the game.