National Soccer Team Captain Uses Sport as a Tool to Bridge Social Divides in Israel

From the time she first stepped on the soccer pitch at age six, Karin Sendel, has been shattering gender stereotypes while creating equal opportunities for young female athletes in Israel. Told many times throughout her childhood that soccer is not a sport for girls, Karin ignored traditional societal norms on her way to becoming a 17-year professional soccer player, ten-time League Champion, eight-time Israeli Cup winner, and captain of the Israeli National Team. Though soccer has been her primary focus, her true passion is achieving gender equality, and creating the social change necessary to promote the women’s game in Israel and around the world.

Along with her professional soccer career, Karin is Chairperson of the Soccer Players Organization, an NGO protecting and maintaining the rights of the players as employees of their clubs. The first woman in Israel to ever hold this position and just the second worldwide, Karin has made a significant impact. She’s professionalizing the women’s soccer league, winning court cases against the Ministry of Sport by demanding equal pay, and publicizing the inequities between the women’s national team and their male counterparts. In September 2021, she was selected to serve on the European and Global Board of the Soccer Players Organization. She’s also been a vocal leader with the “Kicking Out Racism and Violence from the Fields” initiative in cooperation with the Israeli Soccer Association and the Ministry of Homeland Security. This program resulted in the foundation of the Prevention of Violence in Sports Law in Israel.

Karin is committed to using the power of sport to unite communities while bridging the opportunity gap between traditional society and women and other marginalized groups. She wholeheartedly believes that through sport we can create a better world.

Through her GSMP experience, Karin hopes to learn best practices in utilizing her platform to generate new, innovative ideas for creating social change in Israel. She would also like to gain a broad and diverse perspective on using sport as a tool for development while building a professional network with like-minded women. For GSMP: Empowering Women through Sports 2021, Karin will be mentored by Shay Wallach, Assistant Director of Inclusion at the NCAA, and his team in Indianapolis, Indiana.

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