Leveraging the Playing Field: How Sporty Girls Journals Shifting the Narrative for Women in Sport

On a breezy Saturday morning, we were delighted to have Alicia Lui, the author of Sporty Girl Journals and the founder of Women in Sports Empowered Hong Kong (WISE HK), to share her thought process in creating the book at the event co-hosted by Hong Kong Momtrepreneurs and Rolling Books at Cafe 8.

What’s your inspiration for starting this book?

The tagline of the book is “Channelling girls’ inner sportiness” because I want to use the book to help girls define what “being sporty” means to them, but additionally, for me, this book goes beyond sports participation. I want to use the book as a way to help girls understand themselves, their strengths, their identity and express self-love and gratitude.

What does sport mean to you?

Sports are fun. Sports give us community, networks and belonging. Sports can bring us joy, fulfilment and meaning. Sports relieve our stress, nurture our adaptiveness, competitiveness and ambition, and help us become more mentally tough and resilient — all important in this constantly changing world! Not to mention that these traits and skills are transferable to the workplace!

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Were you always so sporty as a girl? 

Yes. I loved running around, kicking a ball, playing with my two male cousins. I was always not so stereotype “girly”: like I preferred, GI Joes and Transformers to Barbie Dolls and My Little Pony, and didn’t like to wear dresses and skirts. My older cousin is about 8 months older than I, so our families (including aunts and uncles) always took us to the playground. I liked to move around and couldn’t sit still for things like practicing the piano. Also, I liked to watch football with my dad on TV and for a while we also liked to talk about the NBA and such (which I don’t do as much of these days, as I don’t follow as many sports as I used to).

My mother was discouraged from playing sports when she was growing up, so she always says she didn’t want me to go through that same experience, but it’s funny because my parents preferred I play what they considered to be more “feminine” sports. When I started playing sports like ultimate frisbee, rugby and hiking, and needing to be outdoors all the time, my mom would always (and she still does) complain about how dark and how many freckles I get.

What was the biggest challenge in writing this book?

I wouldn’t say there were “challenges” since I was having fun writing the book and had a strong motivation to write it. Some stories took a little more research and time to write, but honestly, I think that because I had quite a clear idea in my mind of what the book was going to be like, the execution of it wasn’t too difficult.

What is one advice you have for parents and children to be more engaged in sports? (Other than getting your book, haha)

I always say, “If you don’t like to play sports, you haven’t found the right sport for you” so I think we need to give different sports a go and try. Whether it’s to try new sports through PE classes at school or extra-curricular activities or at camp, it’s helpful to be exposed to different types of sport. Research now shows that for children, it’s better not to be too specialised too early on as we can use different sports to support the development and growth of different muscle groups for more all-rounded physical health.

I would also say, try both team and individual sports, because there are benefits to both. Playing team sport teaches teamwork, collaboration, communication and selflessness, while individual sport can foster aspects such as self-reliance, self-motivation, and positive self-talk.  

As I know you would like to make Sporty Girl Journal available to all girls in HK, especially in a language they prefer, when is your plan to make this into a Chinese book? 

After Chinese New Year, I plan to start finding someone to help with translation to Cantonese and spend 2 – 3 months doing it. I’m sure it will take a while to find someone suitable, and then we’d need to go through multiple rounds of edits and such. If anyone has any leads or interest to do this, please email me! 🙂

Any plan to start your next book?

Haha … actually I do have some ideas … but let me get the Cantonese done for the first book, and then we’ll see!

img_3347Published on November 2019, Sporty Girl Journals features inspiring tales of women breaking barriers in HK’s sport field and thoughtfully crafted fun challenges aimed at encouraging girls to embrace their inner sportiness one page at a time.  

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