Women’s sport grows but more to do

The growth in women’s sport, and the increased media coverage it has attracted, has been one of Australia’s sports success stories in recent years.

We have just completed a second season in the AFLW competition, the Australian women’s cricket team won the World T20 competition in the West Indies late last year, and the Matildas football team are preparing for the World Cup in France where they are rated one of the best in the world.

Next year, we will hopefully see new Australian female Olympic and Paralympic champions arrive on the global stage and become household names.

The latest Royal Morgan Research report into women’s sport revealed 554,000 women and girls played Football, AFL, Rugby League or Rugby Union in 2018.

In particular, the impact of the AFLW competition has seen participation numbers jump by 21,000 from 155,000 to 176,000 participants.

While women’s sport is on the rise, it still has a long way to go to be comparable with men’s sport in participation numbers, media coverage, professional sport salaries and in the number of women appointed to CEO and Board sports positions.

“For women’s sport to continue its growth curve, women’s and girl’s sport participation must sharply increase. At present, women and girls participate in sport at half the rate of men and boys,” said Sports Foundation CEO, Patrick Walker.

While around 11% of females participate in sport, there is enormous scope for these participation rates to climb higher thanks to the new wave of women’s sports role models.

Cricketers Elyse Perry and Alyssa Healy are proving to be inspirations, Matildas captain Sam Kerr is regarded as one of the best footballers in the world and Jessica Fox dominates the world in paddle sports. And unlike so many male sport stars, they are scandal-free and always seem to have a smile on their face win, lose or draw.

It is this new wave of female sport stars who are set to inspire the current generation of young girls coming through the ranks to aspire to achieve personal bests and reach their sports potential.

It is the likes of Sport Australia CEO Kate Palmer, Rugby Australia boss Raelene Castle and Swimming Australia CEO Leigh Russell, who have broken through the glass ceiling of executive sports positions to prove intelligent, motivated and capable women can lead major sports organisations.

And it is magnificent people such as our own PMSO Patron and women’s sport trailblazer, Susan Alberti, who can influence politicians, business leaders and fellow philanthropists that sport, particularly female sport, is a genuine area of support and investment.

But while these remarkable women are tremendous role models, one of the biggest areas of change is at a grassroots level where women and girls must feel welcome and accepted within a club environment.

“PMSO is committed to supporting the growth of women’s and girl’s sport, particularly at a grassroots level. This will require funding and we are delighted Sports Foundation’s Giving4Grassroots™ grants will be available to enhance playing opportunities for women and girls,” said Mr Walker.

David Turner