Advocating for sporty women and girls
Girls dreaming of a career in sport on or off the field now have some heavyweight backing.
Manurewa MP and former rugby and netball international Louisa Wall is among the 21 foundation members behind Women in Sport Aotearoa.
Involved also are people such as Northern Mystics netball franchise chief executive Julie Paterson, academics Sarah Leberman and Toni Bruce, and former England Netball chief executive Pauline Harrison.
The new initiative was launched in Auckland on International Women’s Day. Its purpose is to build a strong national network of people to help ensure girls and women are ‘‘valued, visible and influential in sport’’.
Wall says those involved want to be ‘‘very bold’’ and create positive change. ’’Our pillars are about leadership, research and advocacy. Some of us are exinternationals, some are academics, and some are in sports administration.’’
Wall says the group is asking why women aren’t equally represented on the boards of New Zealand sports franchises. She’s been fighting for years to ensure women are welcome in such roles.
‘‘I’ve been trying since 2008 to get a woman on the New Zealand Rugby (NZR) board. That’s when I first applied. All of that advocacy finally led to the first woman being appointed to the board at the end of last year.’’
The group wants to create a ‘‘vehicle’’ for its network of members and supporters to take action, Wall says.
‘‘To create a case for change [we need to know] what our sporting organisations look like and whether women are equally represented throughout the administration and governance of sport.’’
Paterson says she was inspired to help create Women in Sport Aotearoa after taking part in the Global Sports Mentoring Programme in New York in 2015.
She was also motivated after struggling to find statistics on the rates of girls and women involved with sport in this country.
There’s a gender imbalance in sports governance in New Zealand, Paterson says.
‘‘There’s a lot more diversity in Olympic sports but the major sports, such as rugby, cricket and netball, are much lower.’’
Go to Facebook.com and search for ‘‘Women in Sport Aotearoa’’ for more information.
Louisa Wall played for the Black Ferns at the Women’s Rugby World Cup in 1999. Louisa Wall