This article was first written for and published by The Roar.
At around this time last year, as I reflected on 2016, I knew that it had been a watershed 12 months for women in sport.
Flash forward and I am reading plenty of articles labelling 2017 the same way.
I have news for all of you: the women in sport revolution is here and it is only going to get bigger and better.
Now, as 2017 closes, it is an opportune time to celebrate some of the special moments from the last year while remembering how far we still have to go.
So, in no particular order, here are some of my favourite Australian women in sport moments from the past year.
Australia retain the Ashes
This year’s Ashes series was the first time tickets had been sold to women’s international matches in Australia. The nation responded – almost 30,000 people attended matches across the country to cheer on the Southern Stars as they took on England.
What an advertisement for women’s cricket.
Megan Schutt took 18 wickets (across all formats), Amanda-Jade Wellington bowled the ‘ball of this century’ to dismiss Tammy Beaumont and Beth Mooney hit the first century in women’s T20 cricket in Australia, with 19 fours and a six in her 117 at Manuka Oval.
Congratulations to this talented group of women on retaining the Ashes.
The Jillaroos win the Rugby League World Cup
The Jillaroos came into the Rugby League World Cup with a clear mandate – to win. And they succeeded.
With victories over the Cook Islands (58-4), England (38-0), Canada (88-0), Canada in the semi-finals (58-6) and New Zealand in the Final (23-16), the Jillaroos were able to send out outgoing captains Steph Hancock and Renae Kunst with the victory they deserved.
The NRL announces a women’s competition
Next year, rugby league will change forever thanks to a historic announcement made earlier this month about changes to the elite women’s game.
Next year will see the launch of the NRL Women’s Premiership, to be played in the lead up to and during the NRL finals as well as a number of other changes including the Interstate Challenge being replaced with a State of Origin match, additional representative opportunities for the Jillaroos (and the 40 women who will be contracted to play in this team).
With this announcement the NRL sent a powerful message of diversity and inclusion making sure that women and girls that they are welcome in the rugby league family.
In 2017 history was announced. In 2018 we will watch history happen.
This was a moment in time in the history of the AFL with over 1000 people locked out of Princes Park for the first ever AFLW match between Carlton and Collingwood.
24,500 people were there to watch Carlton defeat Collingwood. This set the tone for a remarkable season which saw names like Daisy Pearce, Moana Hope and Erin Phillips become household names with Adelaide winning the flag in a season of footy very few fans will forget.
Super W announced
Australian rugby also came to the women’s sport party this year with the announcement of a Super W competition. The competition will feature five teams – Queensland, NSW, ACT, Victoria and Western Australia – and will start in March 2018. The competition will run for six weeks and the final will be in April.
This announcement was somewhat soured though when it came to light that the women playing in this competition will not be paid.
I’m not sure how rugby can possibly have an expectation that these women will train, do media and wear jerseys with logos of Super Rugby teams, but all for free.
I am for women being given the opportunity to pursue whatever sport they like – I hope that this competition is a runaway success and gives women in rugby some opportunities which they absolutely deserve.
Sam Kerr takes over the world
I’m really not sure what to say here other than congratulations to a woman who has demonstrated that she is one of the world’s best football players.
Backflips. Three hat tricks. Front page of the SMH. 36 goals in 43 games for club and country. Named the ABC Sports Personality of the Year award at the AIS Sport Performance Awards.
The best is yet to come for this remarkable woman.
Sam Kerr – 2017 belongs to you.
The Matildas beat the United States in the Tournament of Nations
2017 was also the year that women’s football went mainstream in Australia thanks to a remarkable team called the Matildas.
What a year they have had – beating the United States for the first time, winning the Tournament of Nations, selling out stadiums in Australia. It has been truly remarkable to watch.
Who cares about women’s sport? It seems that plenty to as long as the product is exciting and entertaining. The Matildas tick both those boxes as well as being simply exceptional.
The WNBL returns to television screens
This may not have been one of the biggest moments of the year, but it was one of my favourites. I was delighted to see the WNBL return to broadcast this year, with Foxtel televising at least one game per week.
2017 was also the year I became a fan of the Sydney University Flames – if you haven’t had the chance to watch the WNBL before, make that your 2018 new year’s resolution.
The NSWRL Blues go back to back
I get very little joy as a NSW Blues fan so this moment sticks out in my mind – the moment when the Blues went back to back for the first time ever in the history of the Interstate Challenge, beating Queensland 22-6.
It was also the day everybody learnt who Jess Sergis was – the young woman who scored a hat trick on debut.
Ellyse Perry – the centurion
This was probably my favourite moment of the year – watching Ellyse Perry make 218* at North Sydney Oval in the historic day night Test.
This moment did make me slightly sad though. This was Ellyse’s first century at an international level – imagine what she could do if women were given the opportunity to play Test cricket more regularly.
Not only did Perry manage 213 not out and not only did she bowl a spell, but she also stayed behind after the game and signed autographs and took photographs with anyone who asked (including me!).
On a personal note, I would like to thank you all for your support of me and of women in sport this year. Thank you for your continued advocacy and for continuing to show people that women in sport do matter.
It’s been a remarkable year. But the best is yet to come.
Here’s to 2017 and here’s to 2018 – I promise it will be another watershed year for women in sport.