Welcome Little One to the Wide World of Women in Sport.
By Sam Squiers
I’m really proud Sportette has launched the Sportette Summit for Women in Sport & Business on November 22 on the Gold Coast. Changing the sporting landscape for the next generation of little girls has always been a passion of mine, and now even more than ever, since the arrival of my own little girl, Imogen, in June. Here, I explain why.
Welcome little one.
Your world at the moment is confined to the compound of your perspex box but I want to tell you more about the world that waits for you outside…the big wide world of women’s sports.
You see by the time you learn to kick a football, throw a ball, win your first game, the options open to you as a female will be endless. It’s my dream that you’ll be reading this exact article one day wondering how it is that things were so different for women prior to 2017.
You see sport is changing.
As you grow older it’s my hope that the sporting landscape values women in their game as much as men, that women’s sport is celebrated in the same way as men’s, and has evolved to the point where little girls like you can aspire to have a career as an athlete, not just a career alongside being an athlete.
Growing up a love of sport was pumping through my veins. I could run faster, throw further and play better than most boys yet was always told I did this well “for a girl”. Even as I grew older as a Sports Reporter had a man comment in a cafe that it was strange to see a woman read the paper from back to front (and yes that’s when papers were printed not published online). Being a girl is not an insult, it’s a badge of honour I know you’ll wear with pride. There’s nothing genetic about sport, being male doesn’t give someone sporting superiority as an athlete or as a fan.
Prior to 2017, many still believed it did.
So how about this world of women in sport? Well Imogen, it’s filled with the most amazing role models
So how about this world of women in sport? Well Imogen, it’s filled with the most amazing role models whom I know you’ll look up to and draw inspiration from. You see little one you were born 8 weeks early and weighing a tiny 1.3kg you spent your first seven weeks of life in intensive care, it was there you proved to us you’re a fighter. I can’t wait for you to learn about these other fighters like Anna Meares who broke her neck in an horrific crash only to comeback and become the sport’s greatest ever track cyclist. Golfer Karrie Webb is a Queenslander like you and is a 41 time LPGA tour winner and 7 time major winner, she is one of the greatest female golfers of all time and has fought her way to the top in a male dominated game. I’ll also introduce you to Shelley Watts, now she’s a fighter, the first female to win gold at the Commonwealth Games and a lawyer too.
Your tiny size earned you the nickname “Pocket Rocket” and you’ll soon learn about other pocket rockets in women’s sport. There’s jockey Michelle Payne, the first female Melbourne Cup champion, cricketer Ellyse Perry who also represented Australia in football, Sam Bremner the Jillaroos power fullback and Moana Hope, the star of the inaugural year of the AFL Women’s League.
Speaking of which, you were quite the kicker inside the womb, just like Matildas’ stars Katrina Gorry, Tameka Butt and Sam Kerr.
The toughest journeys quite often produce the best leaders little one. Leaders like, Laura Geitz, yes, Barney’s mum, captaining Australia and the Firebirds during a great era for netball. Another Netball superstar is Sharni Layton, you can hear her on a netball court from outside the stadium usually. Ruan Sims, a World Cup winning dual international in Rugby and League and now captain of the Jillaroos (ask her about her surf boat days with mum and fire fighting days with Dad). And then there’s Nat Cook, a sports legend in this country, just wait until you see vision from the 2000 Sydney Olympics when Nat won gold with Kerri Potharst on the sand of Bondi in beach volleyball.
As I look at you now, the whiskers of your oxygen tubes under your nose frame your face. Your lungs may have been underdeveloped when you were born but they won’t ever hold you back. Brisbane Lions star Kate McCarthy has played her whole career in AFL and Athletics (representing Australia) with a pace maker for her heart and seeing as swimming is recommended to build you your lungs, I’ll introduce you to Cate Campbell, one of Australia’s best swimmers and a dynamite of a woman.
So you see little one, welcome to this wide world of women in sport where you can not only shoot baskets on the court, but shoot for the stars. Know that you can not only score goals for points but kick goals in life.
And when you run your first ever race I want you to know who runs the world…girls.
Get your tickets to the Sportette Summit for Women in Sport & Business here.