Well, 2017 you have certainly started off on the right foot! This year has seen females dominating the freshly mowed Australian Football League fields, the unyielding Netball courts, the sandy bases of the Softball arena and the dusty creases of the Cricket oval. We’ve witnessed the Jillaroos overcome the Kiwi Ferns in a clean sweep to achieve the first ever Auckland Nines Series win. We’ve heard the heels of the ASC Chief Executive taking steps towards change for women at a National level. Our role models have discussed body image and anxiety with such purity and transparency. And the AFL Women’s League has encouraged all women to “Be Strong. Be Ready”.
We are only three months in and have already witnessed history in the inaugural AFL Women’s competition. The game of AFL Women’s is rough. With plenty of black eyes and broken nails it is clear through the consistently impressive attendance numbers that the appetite for the game is high. With a sell out crowd at the first ever match in front of 24,500 at Princess Oval these numbers are such an outstanding start for the game.
While each and every woman who takes to the sporting field is an ambassador for all things female, we do have a few stand outs that we encourage our AFL Women’s fans to keep an eye out for! Starting with Melbourne FC’s Daisy Pearce who’s work rate always leaves us in awe, to Brisbane’s Captain Emma Zielke on the interchange bench with her outstanding power both on and off the ball and with Katie Brennon of the Western Bulldogs (who also runs her own performance center for aspiring athletes in her spare time by the way!) we know that the AFL Women’s competition is in safe hands.
This week a truly motivational article was published by the Canberra Times encouraging positive image in all women. With the underlying message of “It’s ok to be yourself”, I couldn’t help but think that the topics of acceptance with body image and mental health are being increasingly discussed across not only Australian sport but also society. Featuring BMX World Champion, Caroline Buchannan and Olympic Weightlifter, Kylie Lindbeck these ladies definitely don’t shy away from the muscle mass and training hard. It is such advocacy and leadership that inspires so many young females to embark on their sporting careers and accept themselves in entirety.
A strong message of self-acceptance and self-care was further instilled through “I Quit Sugar” Founder, Sarah Wilson having made her struggle with anxiety known. Wilson encourages physical activity to assist in the management of anxiety, stating that walking “shifts mechanisms in our brain”. Her recent release “First, we make the beast beautiful: A new story about anxiety” openly discusses her personal coping strategies as well as treatment possibilities. Such a release is so inspirational truly does align with the outstanding work the National Rugby League did and consistently do for the education and accessibility to such mental health services. The NRL established the ‘State Of Mind’ campaign in 2015 and since then the game has helped shaped the way mental health is viewed and discussed, another great positive for Australian society.
With a notable decline in organised physical activity in females requiring urgent attention for both cardiovascular and mental health reasonings, it will now be the focus for ASC Chief Executive Kate Palmer. Starting in office early this year, Kate’s acceptance address gave me goosebumps with the statement: “If that (her appointment) inspires other young female leaders to aspire to be either a CEO of a State or National sport organisation, to be on Boards or to be the CEO of the Australian Sports Commission, I think that’s a wonderful thing”. Now is such an exciting time for sport in Australia and we believe that Kate will be a key driver for change to increase the number of female participants on the ground and in the office.
It is certainly clear that females are stealing some of the limelight on our television screens and Facebook feeds, but the most exciting part is the manner for which all women are unifying to share such influential messages. What a time to be an Australian woman! Whether it is your first time watching a Women’s T-20 game or your 10th year volunteering to run the clubs canteen, thank you.
Ladies who Leap