Updated: Mar 3
✦ As female participation in all manner of sports across the world continues to boom, it is welcome news that women and girls in Port Macquarie will now have access to more inclusive sporting facilities, thanks to the NSW Government’s $25 million Female Friendly Sport Facilities and Lighting Upgrades Program.
Member for Port Macquarie, Leslie Williams said Stuart Park will receive a $500,000 boost to upgrade lighting on five sports fields which cater for rugby union, rugby league, athletics and cricket.
“Community sport is a vital part of our social fabric and some of the biggest barriers faced by women and girls are the lack of female change rooms and amenities, as well as adequate lighting,” Mrs Williams said.
“The NSW Liberal and Nationals Government recognises the critical role local sport infrastructure plays in keeping our communities healthy and active, and by helping boost female participation, we will ensure any young girl or woman who wants to shoot a hoop, score a try or kick a goal, can do so in a supportive and safe environment.
“This groundbreaking program will level the playing field by improving facilities that for decades have been predominately used by men, but now cater for the growing number of our local women’s and girls’ sporting teams,” Mrs Williams added.
Since 2017 the NSW Liberal and Nationals Government has committed more than $1 billion to deliver new and upgraded community sport facilities.
Minister for Sport Alister Henskens said major events including the recent FIBA Women’s World Cup and upcoming FIFA Women’s World Cup are creating enormous excitement and inspiring the next generation of female sporting stars.
“Whether it’s on the court, field or track, we continue to be inspired by our homegrown talent like Ellyse Perry, Lauren Jackson and Madison de Rozario, who are captivating the nation with their extraordinary athleticism and passion,” Mr Henskens said.
“The Liberal and Nationals Government’s investment in community sport infrastructure is improving facilities for women and girls, and boosting female participation in sport, in line with our Her Sport Her Way strategy.”
The popularity of women’s sport, both from a spectator and participant perspective, has seen significant growth in recent years resulting women’s events receiving higher ratings, greater attendance, more sponsors, increased prize winnings and greater media coverage.
Female Aussie athletes have, of course, excelled in various fields for many years, with the most successful sports being tennis, athletics, swimming, netball and golf. However, in recent years sports more traditionally associated with their male counterparts have seen an major emergence of female participation, such as AFL, rugby and football (soccer), with Australia co-hosting the FIFA Women’s World Cup later this year. Aussie women are a particularly strong presence in international cricket, illustrated by their winning of the T20 World Cup in South Africa last month for a sixth time.
Surfing is another sport that has seen an increase in female interest of late, with the popularity of the sport during the COVID-19 pandemic surging; the Financial Review reported 60% of new participants in the sport at the time were women, totalling 120,000 overall.
“We need to support women and make sure they have the confidence to compete, have fun, and embrace surfing – it leads to health and vitality,” Adslot chief financial officer Felicity Conlan, who joined the NSW Surfing board last year, told the same publication.
Superstar Matilda’s striker Sam Kerr agrees, telling the Women Sport Australia website: “Australia has come a very long way in promoting female sport’s participation and getting behind female teams from various sporting codes. But there is still a lot of room for growth, which is really exciting.”
The same organisation offers a Mentoring Program which has provided invaluable opportunities for over 100 women to form mentoring partnerships with senior female and male sports leaders.
With such continued support there is no doubt that the next generation of female sports superstars will continue to emerge and blossom, following in the footsteps of current champions such as swimmer Emma McKeon, footballer Sam Kerr, retired tennis champ Ashleigh Barty, golfer Minjee Lee, cricketer Beth Mooney and para-athlete Madison De Rozario.
More information about the Female Friendly Sport Facilities and Lighting Upgrades Program is available online.
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