Basketball NSW and the Hills Basketball Association want girls to know they can do anything in basketball.
The ‘I am a Girl’ conference was launched with the aim to increase female participation throughout the sport.
Olympic silver medalist and Basketball NSW hall of famer Annie La Fleur is the program’s ambassador and will be a mentor for the girls.
She said it’s an honour to be involved.
“I’ve been involved with basketball since I was 14-years-old and I’ve had a lot of experiences – good and bad,” La Fleur said.
La Fleur is also a development manager for FIBA Oceania.
She said programs like this will help let women know there are opportunities for leadership on and off the court.
“There has been a decline in participation in girls so I think it’s great to have a program like this to bring them out and let them know that there are all different aspects of basketball,” she said.
The program is the brainchild of Karen Burke from the Hills Hornets who identified a need to help more women get involved leaderships positions in basketball.
Although 75 per cent of managers are women at the Hornets, just four of the rep coaches were female.
“When I started analysing the numbers, in coaching and refereeing, they were dominated by boys, which is fantastic, but the girls weren’t putting themselves forward,” Mrs Burke said.
“Part of the program was to design leadership to provide them a pathway and to say ‘you can do it’.”
Hills Hornets referee Haylee Cole, 22, said the mentorship had already been of assistance.
Having started a primary teaching career, Cole said it had given her a platform to understand how to balance work and be a high-level basketball official.
“It just equips me to want to pursue this passion even further,” she said.
“Having those mentors there is a great support and makes me realise that I can have a full-time job as well as a job in basketball.
“It makes me want to continue pursuing those goals that I have.”
Basketball NSW chief executive Maria Nordstrom said the program would be rolled out in associations across the state.
There are also plans for two state-wide conferences per year with the first one at Qudos Bank Arena in October.
“Women tend to choose either academics or their sport when they come to certain age,” she said.
“I think to find that family within sport. I played for a long time in Sweden and in Melbourne but my friends today are my lifelong friends from sport.”