Nike Not Playing Games When It Comes To Empowering Female Athletes In This New Video


The 2016 Rio Summer Olympics are just around the corner, and we are starting to see a lot of attention on the athletes and the event in the lead up. Of course this is also a great time for many brands and sponsors to promote their involvement with various athletes as well.

Over the past few years there have been a lot of discussions around the representation of female athletes, the broadcasting of their events, and the way they are paid in comparison to men. The short version is that equality is still lacking in a lot of areas, but thankfully with the increased awareness we are seeing more women stand up and vow to fight against the barriers.

One brand that is helping elevate the message in a powerful way is Nike, whose new video featuring a number of Indian female athletes is nothing short of empowering. Set to the tune of music producer Genera8ion’s ‘Da Da Ding’ (known for collaborating with M.I.A) featuring artist Gizzle, this 3 minute video puts Indian female athletes front and center like never before.

It is a country that loves its sports heroes, but because of its conservative culture, women aren’t athletes that regular sporting hero worship is reserved for. Nike’s video is certainly trying to change that.

“Sport in India has a massive image problem, particularly for women. What we set out to do is give it a complete makeover by making it cool, accessible and fun…We commissioned some of the best image makers and musicians, and got together a crew of women that best represent sport in India right now,” said Mohamed Rizwan, creative director at Wieden + Kennedy India, the creative agency behind the video.

Part of the girl squad includes national hockey player Rani Rampal, surfer Ishita Malaviya and Indian actress Deepika Padukone who is a former national badminton player. Some of the sports represented among the women include basketball, football, running, training and India’s national obsession: cricket.

The empowerment comes from the message that sport can give women the confidence to achieve their full potential in life.

“Everything I am today and everything I have achieved comes from my years of playing sport. My goals, my commitment, my focus, my dedication, my discipline, my sacrifices, my hard work… All of it, I’ve learnt it all through sport. Sport has also taught me how to handle failure and success. It has taught me how to fight. It has made me unstoppable,” said Deepika Padukone in a statement about her involvement.

In a separate Facebook status she wrote when sharing the video with her fans, she went even further into the reason behind getting involved in sports in the first place.

“Two years ago I struggled with depression. I was sinking. I almost gave up. But it was the athlete in me that gave me the strength to fight and never ever give up! And so I want to say to every girl and every boy and every woman and every man…play a sport…because it changed my life…and it will change yours too,” she wrote.


While Deepika certainly helps bring some major attention to the video given she is a household Bollywood name, the rest of the athletes features are no small deals. shared some info on some of the other women featured in the video. Rani Rampal, who at 15 became the youngest player on India’s national field hockey team in 2010 says playing sport was the very thing that helped her chase her dreams, despite her modest upbringing.

“Coming from a small village never stopped me; every time I won a medal I kept getting stronger and more confident to take on the world,” she said.

She is also the only Indian to have been nominated for the International Hockey Federation (FIH) Women’s Young Player of the Year Award in 2010.

Jyoti Ann Burrett  is a member of the Indian women’s national soccer team, and has a Masters degree in Sports and Health Science from University of Exeter. Similar to the USWNT, the Indian women far outrank the men’s nation team in the FIFA rankings (women at 57, men at 163), and they also have an exposure problem. The men are able to play in national tournaments and make a full-time living out of their passion, whereas women cannot.

Joshna Chinappa is currently the world no. 10 ranked squash player and is the only Indian to win the British Squash Championship title, in 2003, where she also won the doubles title along with Dipika Pallikal. Ishita Malaviya is India’s first professional female surfer, and is also the co-founder of one of the country’s most well-known surf schools, Shaka Surf Club.


Namrata Purohit is one of the youngest fully-trained Stott Pilates instructors in the world who regularly trains the country’s professional cricketers, footballers and even some Bollywood stars. Harnampreet Kaur is the captain of the Indian women’s cricket team who are currently ranked 4th in the ICC rankings. Shubhlakshmi Sharma is another member of the women’s cricket team who became a regular at the age of 18.

Smriti Mandhana is the 3rd cricketer to be featured in the Nike ad, who scored a half-century in her Test match debut which helped her team win against England. At the tender age of 9 she was selected for the Maharashtra state’s Under 15 side, showing how early her talent was seen.

It sends a very powerful and timely message to the young women and girls in India that they too can achieve their athletic dreams and should not be held back by anything. In a country like India where there are still many barriers in its conservative culture as well as barriers to economic empowerment, education, and career opportunities, a video like this helps give visibility to some much-needed role models.

Another inspiring video, which was released by Girl Effect, the non-profit organization originally founded by the Nike Foundation, gets to the heart of what many girls in developing countries like India face before even attempting to achieve their goals. The ‘Invisible Barriers’ short film, featuring an original poem penned by Nigerian-born performance poet Bassey Ikpi, dramatizes the complexities of a girl’s life in poverty.

With animation from Mushtashrik Mahbub, it shows that whilst organizations are making incredible strides in providing the health, education, safety and financial services that girls across the developing world need and deserve, social norms often prevent girls from accessing them. These invisible barriers must be broken down in order for girls to reach their full potential and experience their own “Da Da Ding” moment in life. You can watch the video below:

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