This week, the world celebrated International Women’s Day; an opportunity for all of us to stand up, speak out and advocate for a more gender equal world – a world which I am confident will be reached in my lifetime.
There’s no better week than this to reflect on some of the outstanding achievements of women in sport over the past seven days.
Let’s start with cricket.
This week, the Southern Stars continued their 17-year unbeaten run in the Rose Bowl with a 2-1 series win over New Zealand. With only four balls to spare, the Southern Stars managed to chase down the White Ferns’ total of 270.
The star of the show was Meg Lanning, who scored a tenth one-day century to surpass Charlotte Edwards’ record for the most ODI tons ever scored.
To make the moment even more special, Charlotte just happened to be in the crowd watching our Meg-a-star, who brought up her half-century in 62 deliveries and scored an unbeaten 104, featuring 7 fours and a six.
While many have spent the last couple of months focused on some of our more established names, like Lanning, Alyssa Healy, Ellyse Perry and Alex Blackwell, it bodes well for the future of women’s cricket to see one of the breakout stars from this year’s WBBL, Ashleigh Gardner, claim her maiden wicket as a Southern Star. Gardner took the wicket of experienced New Zealand batsmen, Amy Satterthwaite for 11 runs.
When we talk about impressive Australian sporting teams, the Southern Stars absolutely have to feature. This is a team that had their last defeat at the hands of England in the 2013 Ashes in England; a winning streak of which most teams only dream.
In that run, they have had victories in England (2014), Pakistan (2014), the West Indies (2014), England (2015), India (2016), New Zealand (2016) Sri Lanka (2016) and South Africa (2016).
The end of this tour means the cricket season is slowly coming to an end. Fans will next see this talented team in action during the World Cup in England, in June.
Until then, hopefully the AFLW and netball keep you occupied.
“All I want to do is try and be a role model”
These are the words of one of my favourite athletes, Michelle Heyman – striker for the Matildas and Canberra United, and the only openly gay athlete to represent Australia at the Rio Olympics.
Last week, Michelle won sports personality of the year at the inaugural Australian LGBTI awards, held at the Sydney Opera House, in a category featuring exceptional people like Alex Blackwell, Matthew Mitcham and Daniel Kowalski.
Michelle has been described to me in the past as a “non-stop smile” and this is true of the way she conducts herself on and off the field.
As well as an extremely talented footballer, Michelle is passionate about advocating for people to just be themselves. That makes it even more special that she was presented an award which is about just that – accepting people just the way they are.
This award comes off the back of Football Federation Australia joining Pride in Sport as a foundation partner during Female Football Week.
We are into the final weeks of the inaugural AFLW competition and it looks like it’s going to be an Adelaide Crows vs Brisbane Lions grand final.
This week, Sydney Swans CEO Andrew Ireland commented that he did not think the club was losing ground to Greater Western Sydney, just because the Giants have a women’s team and the Swans do not.
I was one of many Sydney AFL fans disappointed that the Swans did not put in a bid for an AFLW team last year, the club claiming they did not have the appropriate facilities or talent available.
I absolutely understand the Swans only wanting to commit to having a women’s team when they feel like they have the ability. However, they need to stand behind that decision and recognise that, for the moment, the Giants AFLW team is Sydney’s team.
As a result, the Swans have lost fans who want to see women given the opportunity to play footy professionally.
This week, to coincide with International Women’s Day, the Swans launched a Diversity Action Plan, which deals with – among other things – LGBTIQ pride, multiculturalism, empowerment of people with a disability, and the promotion of women.
Policies like this certainly have a role to play, particularly if it helps put the Swans in a position to put a bid in for a women’s licence the next time the AFL takes applications.
I for one hope this happens sooner rather than later, so more women in NSW have the opportunity to take part in AFLW.
This week, I’m sending good vibes to the Sydney University Flames, who will be playing the Dandenong Rangers on Saturday night in the first of a three-game decider series to crown the WNBL season champions for 2017.
Last Friday night, the Flames defeated the Townsville Fire by 76-61, cinching Game 2 of the three-game series to make it a tenth victory in a row.
The last time a Sydney team were crowned WNBL champions was in 2001 – back then, the Flames were known as the Panthers.
It looks like this might be the year the Flames’ drought is broken.