Acting Head of Sport

Last Monday, ex-Australian Netball Captain Liz Ellis tweeted a photo of her playing contract from the 2003 domestic netball season as a member of the Sydney Swifts. With three years of club captaincy under her belt, and only one year away from being named captain of the national side, it could be expected that Ellis would be recognised with a lucrative contract. However, with community appearances and coaching clinics, arguably Australia’s best ever netballer would struggle to clear $10,000 a year playing the game she excelled and loved. This appeared to be in contrast to male athletes on a similar level. 

15 years later and the landscape hasn’t shifted in so much that it’s completely metamorphosed – Australia now has professional women’s competitions in football, AFL, basketball, cricket and netball, with numerous other positive stories, including the Australian Women’s Rugby 7s success in Rio and the continued dominance of Australian women’s swimming. Names like Lauren Jackson, Sam Kerr and Ellyse Perry are as familiar in the playground as Andrew Bogut, Tim Cahill and Michael Clarke.

Continued developments by major sporting organisations allow women’s sport to continue to grow. This year, Cricket Australia announced an increase in player payments to females from $7.5 million to $55.2 million. However, not all progress is measured in specific dollars and cents. Landmark deals have been established in the WNBL, with players guaranteed to have their contracts honoured if they fall pregnant. AFLW and the W-League have structured collective bargaining agreements to cover health insurance, income protection and other safeguards for athletes who need to work more traditional jobs to supplement their income to play the games they love.

Participation in female sports at the grassroots level continues to grow across the board. However, up until now, what has been missing are the examples on TV and in the news for the stars of tomorrow to look up to. On any given weekend in 2017, you could turn on the TV and see women playing professional cricket, AFL, football, rugby, netball, basketball and many other sports.

Whilst there are still major imbalances between professional men’s and women’s sport, what is clear is that women’s sport is continuing to expand and conquer new frontiers with a combination of small steps and giant leaps. The first Women’s Day-Night Ashes Test is on this week until Sunday at North Sydney Oval, and I encourage everyone to head down to check it out. Otherwise, you can get out to a W-League soccer or WBBL cricket game this summer and support women’s sport by  continuing to show what Michelle Payne, ex-student of Loreto College Ballarat, knew when she rode Prince of Penzance to victory in the 2015 Melbourne Cup coincidentally wearing suffragette purple, white and green; “Everyone else can get stuffed who think women aren’t good enough!”

A comprehensive sports program is an integral part of a Loreto Normanhurst education promoting skill development, a healthy lifestyle, leadership, fair play, grit, perseverance and team work. The aims of the sport program are to provide a positive and rewarding experience for every student while growing excellence and achievement in sport and to further develop sport at an elite level for those who want it.

To the future of women’s sport in this country: the young women of Loreto Normanhurst and beyond now have idols to look up to playing the sport they love – and we say never stop dreaming and never stop believing.

 

Mr Matthew Mulroney

Acting Head of Sport