Vote 1: Women’s Sport

This article was first written and published for The Roar.

Unless you’ve been living under a rock for the past month, most of you will be well aware that a federal election is happening tomorrow.

I’ve found it exceptionally difficult to decide who to vote for. And when you’re having trouble deciding, people always advise you to look at policies, not personalities.

When it comes to women’s sport, both parties have made commitments if they are successful at the polls tomorrow. Here are some of the major election promises that will have an impact on women’s sport, should the party proposing them be elected tomorrow.

Netball
Late last week, the Coalition announced a $30-million commitment to fund numerous initiatives in netball, from the grassroots through to the elite level.

Should Scott Morrison and the Coalition be elected, this will be the largest single investment in Australian netball by a federal government.

Key aspects of the investment include a new participation strategy at the grassroots level called Play Netball, support for Netball Australia’s bid for the 2027 Netball World Cup and support for further international engagement to support bilateral and multilateral relationships across the world. In terms of infrastructure, this investment would also fund the first ever international leadership hub for netball in Melbourne.

This announcement followed a commitment by the Labor party in October 2018 of $20 million over two years to assist Netball Australia with its grassroots participation and engagement programs, as well as support for the World Cup bid.

Caitlin Bassett

(Photo by Albert Perez/Getty Images)

Rugby
Earlier this week, bipartisan support was announced for Ballymore, with the Coalition matching Labor’s $15 million election promise to turn the former Test venue into a national rugby training centre.

The Ballymore proposal is worth $35 million and would see the venue become the headquarters of the women’s game, the Queensland Reds men’s and women’s training base and a venue capable of hosting Australian Wallaroos Tests, club rugby and also fixtures from other sports with a capacity of 12,000.

The last two years has seen Rugby Australia commit to the 15-a-side women’s product through the commencement of the Super W competition and more opportunities for the Wallaroos to play international fixtures both independent of and alongside the Wallabies.

This facility would be another boost for a sport that is beginning to capture the imagination of the Australian public.

Hockey
On Monday’s visit to WA’s Curtin University, Morrison announced a $600,000 upgrade of the women’s change rooms and recovery facilities if his party returns to power.

While this upgrade will benefit plenty of sports, given many of Australia’s most prominent Hockeyroos are from Western Australia and the country’s high performance program is based in Perth, this funding will give hockey a particular boost in the lead-up to the Tokyo 2020 Olympics.

Up until this point, the women’s hockey team have had to share facilities with the men, meaning that many of the women have to take their gear home from training every day, which can be frustrating and pose challenges for elite athletes.

Football
For the Coalition, turning Melbourne into a women’s sport hub has been a big focus.

As well as netball funding, Morrison has promised a new $15 million home for the Matildas, also based in Melbourne. This facility will host training camps and elite pathway programs for girls and women.

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Sam Kerr backflip new Matildas kit

(Image: Supplied, Nike)

This funding is needed for women’s sport, but I wonder whether these promises are designed to garner support in a state where the government is unpopular with voters.

This money has also been matched by the Labor Party and is well timed given we are just one month out from the FIFA Women’s World Cup and the squad to compete in that tournament in France was announced this week.

Cricket
On Monday, the Labor Party announced a $30 million commitment towards the WACA Ground Improvement Project. While men and women play at the WACA, this funding will turn the venue into one with female-friendly facilities for our elite women’s teams.

AFL
Technically this funding could be listed under a number of sports, but the Labor Government has also pledged $5 million to upgrade Henson Park.

The venue is the home of the Newtown Jets, but this renovation would turn it into a multi-purpose facility that would also host AFL, in particular the Sydney Swans reserves.

Most importantly, this project includes construction of female change rooms, which means that the ground can also host the GWS Giants AFLW team, as well as a Sydney Swans AFLW team and a Cronulla Sharks NRLW team, when we get there.

Also on AFL, the Coalition has announced funding for a new high-performance home for women’s sport in NSW at the Royal Hall of Industries in Moore Park, which will assist the Sydney Swans in putting forward a bid for an AFLW team and also provide additional facilities for the NSW Swifts.

While the winner tomorrow still seems unclear to me, what is clear is that no matter which party is elected, women’s sport across the country will benefit.