The woeful status of female sport in Australia

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Michelle Bridges

Ellyse Perry during a Women's Ashes Series match between England and Australia at Wormsley Cricket Ground this year.

Ellyse Perry during a Women's Ashes Series match between England and Australia at Wormsley Cricket Ground this year. Photo: Getty

When I was a teenager, I was really into basketball. I used to play lots of sports, in fact, some of which were not the usual activities for girls. I still owe an apology to the poor kid I replaced in the boys’ soccer team, as I’m guessing he would have copped a ribbing from the other boys. (He shouldn’t have listened to them – they weren’t that good anyway!)

But basketball was my passion, and I even managed to get myself selected for the NSW under-16s team, which was a huge thrill for me. So you can imagine how stoked I was when I was asked to be an ambassador for the Sydney Uni Flames.

The Flames are the only fully professional team in the Women’s National Basketball League, and apart from gagging to get out there and cheer them on in their new $15-million stadium, I’m ecstatic to be able to support women’s sport in general.

Michelle Bridges.

Michelle Bridges. Photo: Ellis Parinder

It’s an odd world, though, women’s sport. While the blokes are getting the headlines for breaking curfews and messing around with illicit substances, the women seem to be quietly achieving great things in a cloud of secrecy.

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Unfortunately, women’s sport is still very much the underdog in terms of media exposure in Australia. This is despite the fact we have so many extraordinary female athletes. The Australian women’s cricket team, the Southern Stars, have recently been playing in the UK; Jess Cameron’s brilliant one-handed catch in the third T20 match at Essex was an amazing example of the Stars players’ athleticism!

Other names that spring to mind include Ellyse Perry – who plays both soccer and cricket for her country, an incredible feat – hurdler Sally Pearson, tennis star Sam Stosur and cyclist Anna Meares.
They are just a few of the Australian women achieving extraordinary things in the international sporting arena. 

One women’s health magazine runs an annual initiative supporting Australian women in sport. Sick of women’s sporting bodies not receiving equal funding and women being under-represented on the boards of sporting bodies, the magazine promotes a campaign recognising our great Aussie girls’ achievements during the year.

In fairness, the campaign also gets government support, but the media appetite for women’s sport seems to centre around what we’re wearing, rather than what we’re actually doing.

Michelle’s tip
Encourage your girls to play sport – and play sport yourself!