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Women in Basketball celebrating International Women's Day

MIES (Switzerland) - International Women’s Day is celebrated each year on March 8 as a way of celebrating women’s achievements, raising awareness against biases and taking actions for equality.

Basketball and sports are powerful tools to empower women and girls to achieve these goals. The FIBA Foundation has spoken to various players, referees and coaches that shared their experience of how basketball has turned them into the women they are today, the opportunities it has given them and the biases they were able to shatter through it.

Liz Mills - Australia.
Former Kenya National Team Head Coach and A
S Salé Basketball Team Head Coach

"Throughout my coaching career I have faced numerous stereotypes and biases, mainly based on my gender and age.  Instead of viewing these as disadvantages, I have used these situations to further the discussions around gender equality in coaching and hopefully highlighted the skills and capabilities women can bring to the sport.  If nothing else, I hope my career has encouraged girls to dream about coaching their national team one day and inspired more clubs and federations to hire coaches based on experience, qualifications and skill sets, with gender playing no role in the selection process."

Sonja Vasic - Serbia.
Former player of the Serbian National Team and a FIBA TIME-OUT 2.0 Graduate

"Sport in general, but in my case basketball, is what empowered me to become the woman I am today. It gave me a sense of accomplishment, freedom of voice, a path to success all of which led me to be independent and make life choices upon my wishes not obligations. It nurtured the feeling that if I put the work in and show up every day my dreams might come true. The platform it has offered is a powerful tool to share my story with other girls, especially since I come from a small country where opportunities in female sports were not as widespread as today”.

Geraldine Robert, Gabon and France.
Former player of the Gabonese National Team and FIBA TIME-OUT 2.0 graduate

"When I started playing basketball my confidence went to a whole new level.  I had found my path.  I felt attractive, confident, and talented. I realized that my height was actually an advantage and I started to believe in myself and what I could achieve, not only in basketball, but in life too.  So every practice, every game, I was giving my best because I could see the potential I had and I was determined to show the world what I could do."

Amy Bonner, USA.
Professional referee  who has officiated in FIBA World Cups, Olympic Games, the WNBA and the NBA G-League.

"One of the things I love most about being a basketball referee is how people from all different walks of life, different cultures and lifestyles can come together and unite for the passion of basketball and officiating.  In sports we are able to set aside the differences and see each other for the person you are and the performance and effort you give, as we should strive to do in every day life. 

Participating in sports develops confidence and leadership skills that young women can carry over into their adult life. Being a part of a team teaches accountability, teaches young women to have a voice, to learn about success and failure. This experience translates into confidence to pursue careers that may not be traditional for women, it teaches them to take risks, to stand up for themselves, and how to move forward after a set back."

Shada Nasr - Lebanon.
Former Captain of Lebanon National Team

"I faced a lot of criticism from society for pursuing basketball professionally, especially as a young girl in Lebanon. People kept telling me that 'Sports/basketball is not feminine' or to 'focus on more important skills like learning how to cook'. Fortunately, I received a lot of support from my direct family and close friends who felt that girls can do anything and who encouraged me to pursue my passion for basketball."

Paola Ferrari - Paraguay.
Player of the Paraguayan National Team and for Eleftheria Moschato in Greece 

"Through basketball I was able to raise my voice and empower by example. When I started playing there were very few girls in my country Paraguay, today the number of girls who practice basketball is equal and they know that they have the same talent, that they can achieve their goals and above all they know that they can be strong and inspire and at the same time be beautiful women, even if they have some scratches or bruises on their leg."

Satou Sabally, Germany.
Player for the German National Team, the  Dallas Wings of the WNBA and Fenerbahçe of the Turkish Super League.

"Through basketball I’ve always been surrounded by older girls and women who have taught me skills, lessons, and how to carry myself as a proud and confident woman. Basketball has been a safe bubble for me in which I can develop into my true self. I don’t have to pretend to be someone that I’m not."


Astou Ndour, Spain and Senegal.
Player for the Spanish National Team, for the Chicago Sky of the WNBA and Çukurova Basketbol of the Turkish Super League.

"Basketball is a powerful tool to be able to change things. It's a sport, but it has a series of values that allow actions that can improve people's lives. Teamwork, effort, perseverance, believing until the end. It can give you skills that allow you to be a strong woman in life, and that is the most beautiful thing about this sport. "

Azania Stewart, Great Britain.
Basketball commentator and player for the Great Britain National Team and the London Lions.

"Basketball changed my life completely. Basketball gives you so many opportunities. It gave me free education, the opportunity to travel and see the world and to network and make lifelong friends."

Michele Timms, Australia.
Former captain of the Australian National Team, FIBA Hall of Famer

"Looking back on my career, girls were ‘tomboys ‘ if they wanted to play sports and mix it with the boys. But back when I played we incidentally used the sport as a way of not only showing our skills but as a vehicle for breaking female stereotypes. We showed it was cool to be active, ok to get sweaty and that not only boys can be role models given the opportunity.

One of the things I am most proud of as a result of my playing career is that I inspired both young girls and young boys to play the game. I truly only understood this after I retired and received so many messages from men and women who said I was their hero growing up or inspired them to play or follow hoop.  I’m also proud to have been part of an era which changed the way women's sport was viewed."

All these inspiring women are proof of the power of basketball to affect positive change, empowering women, promoting gender equality and breaking stereotypes.