Sports are a big part of our culture. They play an enormous role in shaping our children, not only as athletes, but as people. The general consensus is that sports are immensely beneficial for our children, that’s why parents have always encouraged their children to participate. Ideally, sports facilitate physical health, personal development and provide equal opportunities for both genders.
In 1976, in Iceland, a law was passed ensuring gender equality in all facets of life, including athletics. An additional bill was passed in 2008 further emphasized gender equality and gender integration in all parts of society. Despite these legislative efforts, the desired results have not yet been achieved.
Gender inequality is deeply rooted within the sports community and there remains a great amount of work to be done. It has proven difficult for the average sports club to lead the way and formulate clear policies regarding these issues. The onus on most sports clubs is that they should provide everything for everyone, which has been impossible to accomplish, and Icelandic sports clubs are no exceptions. Although there have been encouraging signs that clubs are addressing gender inequality, it’s clear as day a lot of work remains to be done.
Athena offers a new vision.
Athena is a new club, founded on June 19th, 2019. The objective of the club is first and foremost to even out the societal gender imbalance by empowering young female athletes through coaching and mentoring. The goal of the club is to work towards and achieve gender integration in youth sports, following in the footsteps of various European countries where athletes can participate in mixed-gender teams until they become 14 years old.
The founders of Athena have multiple years of experience coaching both girls and boys and it’s their experience, without exception, that girls receive less quality coaching, worse facilities and therefore less opportunity. This is a common experience for players and their parents before joining Athena.
Athena works within current gender equality laws and guidelines, raising awareness around the issue. We work tirelessly to advance equality by empowering female basketball athletes. This way we hope to highlight the inequity between genders in sports, we simply want to see established laws and regulations observed and enforced.
Athena is available to both girls and boys, and everyone is coached the same regardless of gender, ensuring equal opportunities. In our coaching, the sole focus is on the will and the ability to get better.
Leveling the playing field.
Athena will provide opportunities for children to participate in sports they would otherwise not be able to. We will ensure that those children receive leadership training, enabling them to compete and learn within the program, regardless of their family’s socioeconomic status. Although the coaching focuses on the children themselves, Athena requires a great deal from the parents as well. It’s important that the parents understand the philosophy and technique that drive the program. This network of parents provides support and guidance to families that otherwise would not be able to spend as much time or be as involved in their children’s athletics. This way we ensure that that no child is left behind and everyone will receive the same opportunities.
Leadership training for young people.
Athena specializes in character and mental training.
The goal of Athena is to be a role model and guiding light at a global level for other clubs, raising the bar when it comes to coaching young women, encouraging other organizations and other clubs to follow suit. The program addresses anxiety and low self-esteem, which are common among young women, giving them tools and techniques to face those challenges head on. Additionally, we focus on personal goal management, emotional intelligence, improved self-awareness and leadership skills. The program emphasizes constant self-improvement and demands a lot of its players, off and on the court.
Athena’s founding principles are deeply embedded in the clubs story. Even though the club was formally founded in 2019, it’s spirit was born years ago when a few girls showed up to their first basketball practice with Coach Brynjar Karl. Since then, the girls have walked through fire to achieve their goals and through their adversity grown to accomplish remarkable things.
When you join Athena you buy in to the values the club was founded on as while keeping the same values alive as you help us write the next chapter in Athena’s story.
Before you become a part of our future, you should get to know our past:
Raise the Bar
In 2015, Brynjar Karl started coaching his daughter’s basketball team, despite the fact that he had promised himself never to coach a team again. The team’s stated goal was to “increase the worth of women’s basketball”.
6 years later, they found themselves in a situation where they saw their own story unfold on the big screen when Raise the Bar premiered around the world.
Their inspiring but at the same time controversial story provides leadership lessons in real life and examples of what it takes to go against the flow.