This week there was very exciting news coming out of GWS Giants HQ, with the Club announcing that it has officially lodged its bid with the AFL to obtain a licence for the inaugural national women’s league which is set to launch in February 2016. With the AFL keen to give the 8 chosen clubs as much time as possible to organise their teams before launch date, the outcome of the bid should be known by the end of May.
With the GWS Giants the only Sydney club to put in a bid for a licence, I am confident that I will have a women’s team to call my own in 2017.
As the founder of ‘Ladies who League’, ‘Ladies who Legspin’ and now, ‘Ladies who Leap’, one question I am asked quite frequently, is how can we get more women involved in our sports.
I can tell you what the solution is not – pink merchandise and anything bedazzled (although don’t get me wrong… I do love pink).
I want more than this.
As a woman, what I want to see from my sporting clubs is a genuine commitment to making women feel involved, included and part of the family. Increasingly, sporting teams are beginning to demonstrate that they are committed to diversity and inclusion at all levels of the game from the grassroots to the boardroom and this is a joy to see.
- increased involvement of women at a board level in the NRL – including Marina Go at the Wests Tigers, Tanya Gadiel at the Parramatta Eels and Rebecca Frizelle at the Gold Coast Titans;
- increased presence of women commentating on our sports including Shannon Byrne, Anna Harrington, Lucy Zelic and Yvonne Sampson; and
- increasing commitment to women’s sport. You only need to look at the success of the inaugural Women’s Big Bash in 2015/2016, the continued support for the Matildas as they qualified for Rio for the first time since 2004 Rio and the increased exposure of our Australian Women’s Rugby 7’s team who are a genuine gold medal hope ahead of the Rio Olympics.
At a fan level sporting clubs are having a lot of fun too. During the Big Bash there was a women’s merchandise range with cuts and styles which I thought, were more appealing. The Sydney Swans have had a long established group called ‘Ladies at Sydney Swans’ which organises events throughout the year to encourage the female fans at the Swans to get together and last year the Wests Tigers officially launched their Women’s Initiative.
So let’s keep this momentum going.
At a participation level, it is one thing to say that as a club you are committed to growing female participation but actions speak louder than words and this week, it was the GWS Giants who walked the walk.
The bid for a women’s team continues the Giants involvement with supporting female participation since the Club’s inception in 2012. The Giants have had a long standing partnership with the Auburn Giants Football Club in Western Sydney. The Auburn Giants were the first women’s AFL team in Western Sydney and include women from a wide range of cultural backgrounds. The Giants also have a Giants female Academy program.
Having our own team would be the next logical step in creating a genuine pathway for young women that want to play AFL.
This pathway is certainly needed – according to Giants Chairman Tony Shepherd “32 per cent of total AFL participation in NSW and the ACT [is] made up of female players” with “total female participation growing by 405 per cent over the last five years in NSW and the ACT”. If number of young girls attending the AFL with their mum’s is any indication, will become increasingly needed in future years.
There is continued appetite in Australia to watch women’s sport and it’s encouraging to see the AFL having committed to the women’s league in 2017, but what’s even more exciting for me is that the team I support is passionate enough about diversity and inclusion to have launched a bid.
It’s going to be a very exciting couple of months – perhaps soon, there may be a female rival for my favourite Giants player, so Heath Shaw, look out.
And if you want a smile, click here for the video that the Giants included as part of their bid.
Ladies who Leap xxx