Ad­vo­cat­ing for sporty women and girls

Papakura Courier - - WHAT’S ON - CHRIS HARROWELL

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 Face­ 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

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