A fruitful career in athletics is challenging regardless, but for women that challenge is tenfold. The odds are stacked against them in nearly every way from the astonishing pay gap to the lack of opportunities. Hoopqueens recognizes this and is striving to change the narrative for Canadians everywhere.
After closing the curtains on a triumphant varsity basketball career due to injury, Hoopqueens founder Kessa K (whose real name is Nakissa Koomalsingh) was presented with a number of tough questions. Wrapping up a post-secondary education is no easy task, especially if you take into consideration the immense pressure of being a student-athlete, so naturally, she experienced a grace period of pure relief. However, once the alleviation had subsided, Koomalsingh felt disillusioned with the daunting question of what comes next. After a brief stint in coaching, she realized that perhaps it was time to play a different role in the game of basketball. Thus, in 2020 the non-for-profit organization Hoopqueens was born.
Hoopqueen’s mission is to provide a safe space for personal & athletic development opportunities in order to help change the narrative of women in sport. Any ballers can attest to the fact that court space is hard to come by, and being a woman and a minority Koomalsingh knew this better than anyone else. Hoopqueens provides training space for all types of varsity athletes from D1 level to U-Sport, and in-between session scrimmages so that players of any calibre can mingle and bond over their love for competition. However, the organization is much more than just a gym. Workshops that cover topics from life skills to injury prevention are held by staff, to help participants understand the value of critical thinking as well as athletics.
Sportswear giant Adidas recognized all the opportunities that Hoopqueens offer for young athletes struggling against gender inequality and has decided to lend a hand to the organization. A reimagined version of the Forum basketball shoe was gifted to participating members, as well as a donation of $5k worth of footwear and apparel in solidarity with Hoopqueens. Dating all the way back to 1983, the Forum is an iconic basketball shoe with deep roots in the game, the strap that sits atop the shoe was designed to replicate the bands that athletic therapists use to wrap the muscles of athletes. Along with athletic gear, Adidas has also enlisted Hoopqueens alongside some lifestyle influencers like Alexis Eke and Natalya Amres to model the exclusive not-for-sale summer pack that includes some specially designed summer shorts and planters.
To hear more about founder Kessa K’s story from student-athlete to entrepreneur, check out this podcast from Lakers Locker Room, or follow this link to make a contribution to the Hoopqueens organization.