“There does feel like there has been a real momentum shift, and I think it’s come about off the back of a lot of years of work by lots of people at grassroots levels creating opportunities for female athletes,” says Melbourne FC AFLW player Melissa Hickey, who’s a #ChangeOurGame ambassador.
“The injection of money into various sporting programs and the media giving women’s sport a platform for people to be able to watch it has also really helped. It’s shown us that if you give women’s sport a platform people will embrace it, and we’ve seen this with the numbers of viewers and attendees at women’s sport over the last 12 months.”
Meg Lanning, cricketer for the Melbourne Stars and #ChangeOurGame ambassador, thinks we’re on the right track at the moment. “I’ve seen a lot of changes in my time already, particularly at grassroots level where there weren’t a lot of opportunities for me to play in an all-girls team. Now there’s lots more access to play in all-girls teams. We’ve come a long way.”
But of course, there’s still a long way to go until there’s equality between sports women and men, which is why campaigns like #ChangeOurGame and WH’s own WinS (#WomeninSport) campaign are so important. “Women are significantly under-represented in management, coaching and officiating, particularly at the higher levels,” says Rechter. “We’ve got to reduce all the barriers, either real or perceived, to participation in sport. Without women leaders, decision makers and role models within sport, equal opportunities for women and girls will not be achieved.”
And re that pay gap? “The pay gap in sport is a reflection of society as a whole. There are a number of factors to explain why male sport is better paid and better regarded, including systemic gender bias, media coverage and funding. I look forward to the day when all women receive equal pay.”
So does Maddie Garrick, WNBA basketballer for the Melbourne Boomers, who’s also a #ChangeOurGame ambassador. “Not having to have ‘day jobs’ to subsidise their incomes will provide female athletes with the opportunity to become the most elite, best version of themselves, as they can focus entirely on their ambitions and ‘work’. We train and compete as hard as we possibly can and dedicate our lives to the sport just the same as the men do, so we should be rewarded just the same.”
“Women’s sport is no different to men’s sport,” continues Rechter. “It’s about passion, drive, skill and commitment. Men and women’s sports don’t have to be identical to be interesting or entertaining - the women’s competitions are more than the ‘female’ version of the men’s game. The same talent and training is needed to make it in sport, and gender is not a factor. I look forward to the day when it’s not men’s sport or women’s sport, it’s just sport.” We do to.