Ellyse Perry: Visibility the key to inspire next generation of sportswomen

Charlie Lawry Roar Guru

By Charlie Lawry, Charlie Lawry is a Roar Guru

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    Australia's Ellyse Perry performances were a highlight of the Women's Ashes. (AAP Image/Daniel Munoz)

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    The past 12 months have seen exponential growth in women’s sport. From the AFLW and the World Cup-winning Jillaroos to the Aussie sevens’ Sydney masterclass and the Sam Kerr juggernaut, Australia’s best sportswomen have never been more visible.

    Women’s cricket is arguably leading the charge, thanks to a successful home Ashes series and another exciting instalment of the WBBL.

    According to recently-released CommBank research, nearly half (47 per cent) of Australians are more interested in women’s sports now than they were a year ago. Change worth celebrating, but there’s plenty more to do, according to star all-rounder Ellyse Perry.

    “For this interest to keep growing, I think there needs to be a focus on inspiring young women to pursue sport outside of school,” Perry says.

    The mantra behind the recent push in women’s sport is ‘you can’t be what you can’t see.’ Highlighting achievements and, crucially, televising them, is key to fostering the next generation of superstars. 65 per cent of Aussies say they choose their favourite athlete because they see them on TV often.

    Perry lit up the Women’s Ashes series with her dynamic all-round performances, including a record-breaking 213 not out in the day-night Test at North Sydney Oval. Since then, she’s led the Sydney Sixers to the top of the WBBL ladder, setting up a semi-final clash with Adelaide Strikers on Thursday. Both tournaments have been subject to a mix of TV broadcasts and live streaming online.

    “Through TV coverage and local grassroots programs, kids will be exposed to more female sporting role models,” Perry says.

    “Seeing more women’s sport on TV is a huge deal for me and last year’s Women’s Ashes spurred huge interest in female cricket. I think the more opportunities kids have to be inspired by female athletes, the more likely they will be to pursue sport… and for me, to see young women follow their sporting passion makes it all worth it.”

    Ellyse Perry batting Sydney Sixers

    (AAP Image/Paul Miller)

    Of the most watched or listened to women’s sports, cricket is currently on top, ahead of AFL, football and tennis. Meanwhile, 54 per cent of Australians are interested in watching women’s cricket.

    “I know I’m biased but it really is a great sport,” says Perry.

    “Anyone can get involved in cricket no matter their background or sporting skill. Whether you play or watch, it’s a sport embedded into our Aussie culture, from the Ashes tournaments to grassroots programs.”

    For the Australian team, Perry says the next step is to get more Test cricket on the calendar.

    “[It’s] absolutely crucial. As popularity increases, the demand for more Test and first-class cricket will increase. Sponsorship is another aspect that helps us grow, with CommBank investing $15 million over three years directly into cricket for women and other diversity initiatives.”

    The WBBL semi-finals take place on Thursday and Friday, with the final taking place before the men’s final on Sunday 4 February. Check the Big Bash fixture guide for details.

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    The Crowd Says (7)

    • January 30th 2018 @ 1:13pm
      I ate pies said | January 30th 2018 @ 1:13pm | ! Report

      Over the past 12 months we’ve certainly seen several unviable women’s sporting competitions piggy back off the real competitions. The crowds at most of these games are pitiful, bordering on non-existent, and no-one watches them on TV. If these “professional” women’s sports are to survive and thrive then they need to find a way to make them viable on their own, without men’s sports funding them. Otherwise it just confirms what the naysayers have been saying for years – women’s sport isn’t worth watching. Will this happen? I very much doubt it; of course, it will just be propped up by the blokes in the interests of “equality” for the foreseeable future.
      Once the propaganda dies down (54% of people are interested in watching women’s cricket, yeah right, more like 5.4%!) the PC sponsorship dollars will dry up, and it will be a very difficult road for women’s sport.

      • Roar Guru

        January 30th 2018 @ 3:02pm
        JamesH said | January 30th 2018 @ 3:02pm | ! Report

        The only way to make them viable on their own is exposure, IAP. The comps won’t improve if no one is taking up the sports, and few will take up the sports if they don’t see a visible pathway.

        The AFLW already has successful athletes from other sports jumping ship because of the higher profile, and we’re only one season in. The standard of this WBBL edition is streets ahead of what it was last season. Of course, you’d have to watch it to know.

        • January 30th 2018 @ 3:27pm
          I ate pies said | January 30th 2018 @ 3:27pm | ! Report

          I’ve watched it. That’s how I know that the stands are empty. The simple fact is that the women’s footy is pulling crowds because they wear AFL jumpers. Take a look at the crowds for the women’s VFL – the standard is just as good as the AFLW, but no-one watches them.
          This is the challenge for women’s sports world over; actually drawing a crowd. Right now the interest in women’s sport is shallow. For example, no-one watches women’s tennis unless it’s in a tournament that the men plan in. It’s got nothing to do with time; women’s tennis has been around for decades

          • Roar Guru

            January 30th 2018 @ 4:02pm
            JamesH said | January 30th 2018 @ 4:02pm | ! Report

            “For example, no-one watches women’s tennis unless it’s in a tournament that the men play in”.

            That’s just false. Women’s tournaments around the world draw good crowds. The Moorilla international in Hobart doesn’t even attract big names and it still gets plenty of people through the gate. I went to the final last year and there was a full house. The match was great.

            Williams, Sharapova, Wozniaki, Kerber etc are household names and it isn’t because they play as curtain raisers for the men. Women’s sport might never draw crowds to the same level as men’s sport does but it doesn’t mean they can’t have successful tournaments in their own right.

            Visibility grows numbers grows quality grows interest grows visibility… You have to start the circle somewhere.

          • Roar Guru

            January 30th 2018 @ 4:32pm
            Mango Jack said | January 30th 2018 @ 4:32pm | ! Report

            That’s not true for the Matildas, IAP. They drew crowds of around 15K in stand-alone internationals vs Brazil recently. The standard of play was arguably better than the Socceroos. Netball also draws big spectator numbers, obviously not on the back of any mens comp.

      • January 30th 2018 @ 4:01pm
        Pope Paul VII said | January 30th 2018 @ 4:01pm | ! Report

        AFL has a high female following. It makes sense that like males, they play and have career paths for the very good. Same with cricket. Any sport would be negligent to not invest in women as participants. You’ll note soccer, RL and RU doing the same. It strengthens the male game.

    • Roar Guru

      January 30th 2018 @ 1:58pm
      JamesH said | January 30th 2018 @ 1:58pm | ! Report

      I agree, Charlie. I’ve read so many negative comments (thankfully few on the Roar) about the skill level in the AFLW competition. Well, it’s not going to improve unless we get more girls taking up the game.

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