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  • Writer's pictureTyzza Macias

GATORADE JOINS FORCES WITH FOOTBALL ICONS TO BOOST YOUNG ATHLETES' CONFIDENCE


Photo: Courtesy of GATORADE, Laia Aleixandri coaching the finalists of the Gatorade 5v5 Tournament

The recent screening of the film "Rachel Meets Ray" at the Gatorade 5v5 female final, held during the UEFA Women's Champions League final in Bilbao, has sparked a wave of emotional and inspiring debates among teenagers. Gatorade, the world's leading hydration drink, brought together football icons to address a pressing issue: 40% of teenage girls lack confidence in sports, a factor that significantly contributes to future athletes abandoning their sports careers.


To foster positive change, Gatorade partnered with global football legends Rachel Yankey, Laia Aleixandri, and Fernando Llorente. These icons engaged with 14 to 16-year-old participants from the Gatorade 5v5 tournament, including teams from Zazpi Landa, Ibaiondo, Bilbao Artizarrak, and Basauriko. Their mission was to inspire and empower these young athletes to overcome confidence barriers and pursue their passion for football.


Rachel Yankey, a former Arsenal, and England national team player, shared a captivating film produced by Gatorade Fuel Tomorrow. Utilizing anti-aging technology, the film features Yankey in conversation with a younger version of herself, discussing the crucial role of confidence. This innovative approach was designed to inspire a new generation to play and remain engaged in football. The film sparked a discussion on maintaining high self-esteem and confidence, particularly when facing adversity.


Tackling Gender Inequality and Social Scrutiny

Yankey's story is particularly poignant. As a child, she cut her hair and pretended to be a boy just to play football. Despite increased access to the sport for girls today, they still face many of the same challenges Yankey did at nine years old in the 1980s. The discussions in Bilbao highlighted significant issues affecting girls' confidence, such as gender inequality in youth football, the scrutiny they face on social media, and the lack of female coaches.


"It doesn't surprise me that 40% of young women lack confidence in sports," Yankey shared. "When I was young, there were no visible female coaches, and that can be very difficult for a young girl: your body and mind are experiencing so many changes! The more female role models there are and the more male coaches are educated about the differences between young boys and girls, the better the conversation between players and coaches will be."

Photo: Courtesy by GATORADE, England legend Rachel Yankey discusses confidence with the finalists of the Gatorade 5v5 Tournament.

Spanish powerhouse Laia Aleixandri, a former youth player who moved to Atlético de Madrid and won the Primera División title in her debut season, echoed these sentiments. "The issues Rachel faced growing up affected me a lot. Even though women's football has grown significantly in recent years, there is still a long way to go. Even when we call it 'women's football,' why can't it just be called football?"


Building Confidence Through Experience

The elite careers of these players—Yankey's international career that began at just 17, Aleixandri's rapid rise to success, and Llorente's journey through top clubs in Europe—serve as powerful examples of overcoming obstacles and building confidence. As "confidence coaches," they shared their experiences and insights, motivating the young players to believe in their potential.


This year's Gatorade 5v5 tournament, won by the Bilbao Artizarrak team, exemplifies the spirit of equal opportunity for young talent. Now in its seventh year, the tournament continues to inspire and drive the next generation of athletes, offering unique sporting opportunities and strengthening their confidence. With participants from 13 countries across Latin America, Asia, the Middle East, and Europe, the tournament's global reach is expanding, with an estimated 26,000 teenagers participating this year, 11,000 more than in 2023.


A Call to Action

Bart LaCount, Gatorade's Vice President of Marketing, emphasized the importance of this initiative. "The Gatorade 5v5 final brings participants to a global stage and demonstrates that all young women, regardless of their background, can participate in sports, learning life lessons and the values of sport. Our research shows that 40% of teenage girls lack confidence in sports, an alarming statistic that makes no sense in today's world. No young woman should lose confidence in herself, which is why we are working with football legends to be Confidence Coaches to inspire and motivate teenage girls to play and continue playing football."


For more tips on maintaining confidence and to watch the film "Rachel Meets Ray," visit Gatorade's Confidence Coaches Hub. Gatorade's dedication to fostering confidence in young athletes underscores the power of sport in creating a brighter, more inclusive future.

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