WNBL: Women supporting women in sport

Guest Post by Melanie Orvis - Deakin University (Deakin Media)

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Photo Credit: Michelle Couling Photography

This November, and in fact 2015 as a whole has seen a monumental step in the right direction for recognising the achievements and talent of women in sport.

Michelle Payne, the first ever female jockey to win the Melbourne Cup has proved that with grit, determination, strong will and support has inspired women across the country that women can achieve their dreams, even in male-dominated industries.

Women in sport are often under-represented, underestimated and quite often exceptionally underpaid in comparison to their male counterparts. Just 7% of all televised sport is female, a staggering, yet truly obvious statistic, which is on the decline due to ABC cutting the WNBL television rights for season 2015/16.

Photo Credit: Michelle Couling Photography

The Deakin Melbourne Boomers is home to four players on the national Australian Opals team. Alice Kunek, Maddie Garrick, Tess Madgen and Elyse Penaluna are a part of a nation’s team ranked second in the world, out of 213 countries; in comparison to the men, who are ranked eleventh. Our national female team are at the top of their game, and one of the best in the world. That is something Australia is rightly proud of.

Deakin were fortunate enough to catch up with these four players, to speak about how the inequality of women in sport plays so much of a factor on not only their playing careers, but sportswomen in general.

How do you think Michelle Payne’s Melbourne Cup victory will help promote women’s sport?

Tess Madgen: “I think it will help promote women’s sport a lot, especially in racing which is very male-dominated. The way she spoke after the race was inspiring and hopefully will help all women’s sports moving forward.”

Maddie Garrick: “Firstly it shows women can be just as good as men. Michelle’s performance was inspiring and I hope it is a pivotal moment for women’s sport.”

Alice Kunek: “Michelle’s victory gives us all the belief that women can achieve great things on the sporting stage if they believe in themselves. Women put just as much work as men do into their training and preparation. Michelle’s achievement was incredible for both her and all of us involved in women’s sport.”

Elyse Penaluna: “It was great to see Michelle’s performance. It shows women are just as capable as achieving success at the highest levels in sport. I was thrilled to see her win the cup.”

Females are often told they are not strong enough, athletic enough, or fast enough. What would you say to those people?

TM: “We train just as hard as male athletes - I’d encouraged everyone to come and watch a Deakin Melbourne Boomers game and see for yourself just how competitive and athletic we are. Women’s basketball is very team-orientated, so sometimes being the strongest or fastest doesn’t get the results.”

MG: “We play in the highest league in Australia, the national team is ranked second in the world and just like any elite sport, we train and play to our highest capacity. Come and watch us play and then let us know what you think.”

AK: “People are entitled to their opinion, but what you want to believe may not necessarily be fact. I would encourage the doubters to come and watch us play, then maybe they will form a different opinion altogether.”

EP: “Come and watch us play for the Deakin Melbourne Boomers. Maybe those people will soon form a different opinion.”

Photo Credit: Michelle Couling Photography

For young girls wanting to grow up and be professional athletes in under-represented sports, what advice would you give them?

TM: “Female participation in basketball is very high, which is great to see. For any girl wanting to be an elite athlete I would say work hard, enjoy what you do and listen to your coaches and mentors.”

MG: “We have lots of females playing basketball, which is great to see. My advice to young players has always been to work hard today and be rewarded for your efforts in the future.”

AK: “Women’s basketball has a strong and successful record nationally and internationally, and we’re really well placed when it comes to female participation. I encourage all the young players out there to believe in themselves, work hard and go out there and achieve their goals.”

EP: “Basketball actually has fantastic female representation, we are ranked second in the world and lots of young girls play the game here in Australia. I would just encourage them all to keep working hard and enjoy what they’re doing.”

What do you think it will take to get greater equality for women in sport?

TM: “We need more exposure. When people come and watch our games they love what they see. Women’s basketball is very structured and at our level it’s incredibly competitive, but the more media exposure we can get the more it will grow.”

MG: “Publicity is a big thing. We need more exposure and I have no doubt women’s sports will grow as a result, as would funding and commercial support.”

AK: “If we keep performing it will be harder for people to ignore us. We need to keep bringing in those who drive women’s sport, push it in the right places and help us to be recognized, especially in the media. Our female athletes across all sports are amazing in their own right.”

EP: “More women’s sport on television is a must. If the public see more women’s sports they will support it. Remember half of our population are made up of females, so we need to be more active in showing what we do out in the sporting arena.”

Photo Credit: Michelle Couling Photography

How can the community help show their support for women’s basketball and what you do?

TM: “Get to a game. We promote our club as one big family, so come and join us, everyone is welcome. We love meeting the supporters after every game, so make sure you come up and say hello.”

MG: “Come and see the Deakin Melbourne Boomers in action, you won’t be disappointed. Be a part of the team!”

AK: “Get down to the State Basketball Centre and support the Deakin Melbourne Boomers. I guarantee you won’t be disappointed.”

EP: “Come to games and support us. We put on a great show, we always play hard and you won’t go away disappointed. I enjoy hearing from people who attend our games for the first time and hear how much they enjoyed it.”

We encourage you come and celebrate women’s basketball and support women’s sport wherever you are in the country. For further information head to www.wnbl.com.au

Guest Post by Melanie Orvis - Deakin University (Deakin Media)