Apr 22, 2024

Inspiring the next generation of women footballers

Yuliia Labenska is doing her part at the 3-Stripes to help change perceptions around gender inequality, which affects young girls dropping out of sports at a young age.
by Yuliia LabenskaAssistant Manager Community & Culture

Have you ever found yourself genuinely excited about an ad? I know I have! Growing up in a remote city in Ukraine, my passion for storytelling grew inspired by the messages conveyed in impactful purpose campaigns. My favorite? The legendary Jose +10 campaign launched by adidas for the FIFA World Cup in 2006. The imagery of two boys playing football with their idols, the greatest football players of all time, struck a chord deep within me. It wasn't just about selling jerseys but about bringing dreams to life, igniting passion, and inspiring hope. As I watched that ad, I couldn't help but imagine myself in the shoes of those boys, experiencing that magical moment of having my favorite players beside me on the pitch. 

Fast forward to today, and I find myself working at adidas, deeply involved in a campaign created to inspire the next generation of women footballers. As I experienced in my childhood, football is often perceived as a male-dominated domain and can be intimidating for girls. The constant pressure to prove ourselves, the fear of comparison, and the lack of representation of female athletes in mainstream media can weigh heavily on girls' shoulders. 

That's why our campaign is more than just an advertisement; it's a movement for change. We saw an opportunity to address the alarming statistic that 43% of girls quit sport at the age of 13. With the ambition of keeping as many girls in the game as possible, we decided to flip the script and reimagine one of our most iconic brand campaigns, Jose+10, with a girl taking the lead. Picture this: a 13-year-old girl surrounded by her role models, both female and male, who have joined forces to inspire her to continue her football journey. It's a powerful message of encouragement, almost as if they're saying, "You Got This". You can see the same girl portrayed together alongside top adidas clubs – the effort of our partners to covey their support to the 13-year-old girls. We hope young footballers who come across this campaign can see themselves reflected in her and feel inspired to continue playing football. 

But our efforts don't stop there. We asked some of our athletes to write a message to their 13-year-old selves, encouraging them to keep playing the beautiful game.

Reflecting on my journey, I can't help but think about what advice I would give my 13-year-old self. Back then, the idea of working on a campaign to inspire young people to follow their dreams seemed like a far-off fantasy. I never imagined that I would be involved in something so meaningful, driving my first global campaign and working alongside female and male football icons to promote equality within the game. But here I am today, living out that dream, and I want every young girl out there to know they can do the same. No dream is too big, and no challenge is too daunting. Anything is possible with determination, perseverance, and a supportive community behind you. So, let's keep her in football. Let's continue to inspire the next generation of women footballers, showing them that they belong, that their dreams are valid, and that they have the power to change the world. Together, we can make a difference.