Game Changer Paris brings cycling and sports to women and girls

24 mei 2024
Game Changer Paris brings cycling and sports to women and girls

She had never learned to ride a bike. Never had the chance. Now, 36-year-old Saoud from Paris uses her bike for almost everything. "It has given me a lot of self-confidence." Saoud is one of the 95 women and girls from the French capital participating in the social community project of NOC*NSF: Game Changer, leading up to the Games.

Project leader Sjors Metz from NOC*NSF expects even more women to join the project where women learn to ride bikes. "This is just an interim result. We are already seeing the impact. It can really enrich a life."

Seizing the Opportunity

The Game Changer project aims to promote sports participation among specific groups in the city hosting the Games. In Paris, the focus is on women in the 19th arrondissement. In this district, which has a low socioeconomic status, fewer women participate in sports activities and make less use of public spaces compared to other parts of the city.

Saoud doesn't know why she never learned to ride a bike as a child. "It just never happened. It was frustrating to see my husband having to teach our children to ride. So when the neighborhood center offered bike lessons last year, I seized my chance. Now I am going to teach our youngest son to ride a bike myself. That goal really motivated me," she says.

The average age of the participants in the cycling project is 56 years, which is good news according to Metz. "This target group is often hard to reach. Also in neighborhoods like this in Paris, where many women with a migration background live who never developed the habit of engaging in sports or going out on a bike. That it's working this way, I find very special."

Game Changer En Fietsen In Parijs


Initially, Saoud was skeptical, she says. She had expected it to be too difficult to learn to ride a bike. "I always thought: you can only learn that as a child. But they guided and motivated me so well. And one morning, I could do it! Now I go everywhere by bike. To the store, my children's school. I actually do everything by bike. For me, this means a lot because I feel much freer now. I can do more things, move around more easily, and I have more self-confidence."

For a younger audience in the district, Game Changer has another project: District Spot. This initiative focuses on young people who gather at local sports and meeting places specially set up for and by young people. Besides sports, cultural excursions, workshops, and debates are also organized there.

Game Changer In Parijs

Life Skills

Metz finds it inspiring to see that both projects go beyond sports and exercise, he says. "Participants develop life skills and a sense of community emerges in the neighborhood. The neighborhood center where the bike lessons take place is a great example of this. People come together and really connect with each other." After the Games, the project will be taken over by local partners.

Souad now also comes into contact with other mothers, she says. "They have seen me cycling and say they would like to do it too. I tell them what it has brought me and encourage them to join the project. I plan to volunteer here as well and teach other women to ride bikes."

About Game Changer

Game Changer is the social community project of NOC*NSF that is carried out in the host country during each Olympic and Paralympic Games. It promotes a sporting world without discrimination, where values such as mutual understanding, friendship, solidarity, and fair play are central. This initiative is used to give back to the local community and to increase sports participation and enjoyment. After the Rio de Janeiro Games, it continued during Tokyo 2020 and now Paris 2024.

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