Inspiring and Empowering Young Women Through Sports, Leadership and Equality

Daily Point of Light # 7800 Apr 29, 2024

Meet Daily Point of Light Award honoree Maegha Ramanathan. Read her story, and nominate an outstanding volunteer or family as a Daily Point of Light.

Maegha Ramanathan, the visionary founder and president of Girls4Sports in Dublin, California, is recognized as the 7800th Daily Point of Light Awardee for her remarkable contributions to empowering female athletes globally. Under her leadership, Girls4Sports has flourished, managing over 330 volunteers across 19 international branches and significantly impacting the lives of thousands of young women.

“As an avid athlete, I grew up loving sports,” Maegha said. “I played six sports including basketball, swimming, badminton, tennis, soccer and volleyball. Swimming became the sport I dedicated the most amount of time to as I fell in love with the competitive yet teamwork mindset. After joining a year-long competition team, I began practicing for two hours five days a week, striving to improve my best time by even milliseconds.”

But Maegha saw some troubling disparities along the way. “I began receiving degrading comments from male swimmers on my team once I began striving for my state competition’s cut times. I was told that I needed to build more muscle, change my ‘weaker’ mindset and be faster in order to be as ‘good’ as a male swimmer. I began doubting myself and my abilities. These comments made a lasting impact on me. I constantly battled feeling inferior throughout the rest of the swim season. I soon realized that this was a shared experience amongst all girls on the swim team. I noticed these same disparities in other fields of my life as well.”

Maegha’s innovative approach and relentless drive have earned her numerous accolades, including being named one of 25 Prudential Emerging Visionaries.

Maegha sees this experience as her catalyst to start Girls4Sports, in order to empower other girls to pursue what she was discouraged to. Girls4Sports is all about creating a nurturing environment for female athletes to share their experiences and challenges in sports. By coordinating with underserved schools, sports teams and children’s hospitals, she has fostered a supportive community that extends well beyond local boundaries. To date, the organization has donated over 2,500 pieces of sports equipment to local teams – a truly profound commitment to accessibility in sports.

“When I first launched my idea of Girls4Sports, by word of mouth to my friends, I received positive feedback through texts and social media,” Maegha reflected. “Girls came to me emphasizing that this organization was a much-needed service because they struggled with the feeling of inferiority and inequity in sports teams. Even though our events are free, upon launching, people immediately wanted to support the cause. We received $200 in donations within our first event. This clear support helped me realize how important Girls4Sports was for society, cementing my belief in this cause.”

Her leadership has also pioneered impactful partnerships with figures such as Chris Evert, a former world number one tennis player, and key executives from the Dublin Unified School District. These collaborations have not only enhanced the visibility of Girls4Sports but have also amplified its influence, allowing it to reach broader audiences and secure essential resources.

Maegha’s dedication extends to organizing advocacy conferences and sports camps that aim to open up more opportunities for young women in sports. These events serve as platforms for discussion, learning and inspiration, connecting participants with international athletes and advocates for gender equity in sports. Notably, the world’s first youth-led global women’s sports conference hosted by Girls4Sports connected more than twenty international female athletes, positioning the organization at the forefront of global advocacy for women’s sports.

Maegha’s innovative approach and relentless drive have earned her numerous accolades, including being named one of 25 Prudential Emerging Visionaries. This recognition came with a $5,000 award, which she generously dedicated to building a sports facility in Devakottai, India – further underscoring her commitment to creating lasting impacts through Girls4Sports.

Under Maegha’s (second from left) leadership, Girls4Sports has flourished, managing over 330 volunteers across 19 international branches.

Through her tireless efforts, Maegha has managed to transform the lives of more than 500 girls by providing them with the opportunity to engage in sports like soccer, badminton and volleyball. Her monthly commitment of 60 to 65 hours working with Girls4Sports exemplifies her dedication and passion for her cause.

She encourages others with sage advice: “Change can be anything. It doesn’t have to be starting a nonprofit. Even something as simple as making a card for a suffering individual, can make a life-changing difference. Do what you are passionate about, and you will find a lifelong community of genuine people and create genuine impact.”

Maegha is not just a leader but a catalyst for change, making significant strides towards gender equity in sports. Her work with Girls4Sports continues to inspire and empower young women worldwide, proving that with passion and perseverance, positive change is possible. As the 7800th Daily Point of Light Awardee, her achievements provide inspiration and an empowering example of leadership for aspiring female athletes everywhere.

Do you want to make a difference in your community like Maegha? Find local volunteer opportunities.

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