"Girls worldwide who play sport are more likely to attend and stay in school, more likely to finish their education, more likely to be in better health and earn higher wages during the course of their lives.”- The Honourable Dame Quentin Bryce AD CVO
The scene of women’s sport has dramatically changed for the better over recent decades. There are not only numerous campaigns across Australia promoting the benefits of women’s sport, including VicHealth, but there has also been an increase in media coverage and broadcasting deals which boosts athletes’ profiles, giving them the chance to shine in a once male dominated field. Semi-professional and professional women’s Rugby League, Rugby Sevens, Rugby Union, Cricket and AFL teams have been established over the last two years and have provided women an opportunity to shine in their own right.
2018 has also been a year that has highlighted the steps that have been taken to change the game for women on a national scale. including the introduction of the Women’s Big Bash League and the Women’s NRL teams having the chance to raise a premiership trophy for the first time.
There have long been strong stereotypical views surrounding women in sport and it is a significant positive move forward to see these view challenged. Everyone has heard the classic cliché ‘you throw like a girl’ and have heard someone call knee push-ups ‘girl push-ups’. The stereotypical language that we use can discourage girls from participating in physical activities and this has contributed to our male dominated sporting arena. If we are to genuinely change the game for girls and women, we must address these issues from the grassroots level. Coaches, athletes and parents need to provide a positive environment whereby all athletes, regardless of gender, feel safe, supported and encouraged to be the best they can be.
Having moved so far beyond the 19th century, when female participants were only from high social classes and were only able to participate in events that men claimed to be feminine, women’s sport has become a commodity and its value is reflected in the female participation rates and medal events in the 2018 Gold Coast Commonwealth Games. At the 2018 Games there was an equal number of medal sports for both men and women the first time in the events history,
Sally Pearson, Olympic and Commonwealth Hurdle Champion was quoted to say “This is such a positive move for all sports and I am particularly proud that this initiative will commence in my home-town on the Gold Coast in 2018, to be held up as a shining example for other events to follow.’
It is such a profound accomplishment that women’s sport is starting to be seen as equal to men’s sport. As women’s sport flourishes and begins to take its rightful place in the society, girls now have positive role models that they can look up to and emulate.
So come on girls, lace up those running shoes and go get ‘em!