Pay increases kickstart girls’ sporting ambitions

Are improvements in pay in women’s sport, such as the Matildas’ recent success, influencing the participation of girls in physical activity at school? Staff and students at St Francis Xavier College in ACT speak out, Sue Osborne writes.

Kelly Candy, Physical Education teacher, said: “I feel, every time an opportunity opens up for women to play sport at the highest level, for example, WBBL, WAFL and Super Netball, girls are lifted and know there are more opportunities for them. The win for the Matilda’s is a win for all women, especially young women. I believe it will influence participation at a school level as it is becoming more socially acceptable for girls to play a wide range of sports and with a career pathway visible, it can only encourage more girls to play the sport they love”.

Samantha Stevens, Health and Physical Education Coordinator, said: “These improvements to women’s sport must be having a positive impact on girls participating in sports. I remember speaking to a group of Year 9 girls a few years ago and discussing how exciting it is that professional sport is a viable option for these students. And to have Maggie Gorham selected in the AFLW draft just shows what some of our students are capable of”.

The win for the Matilda’s is a win for all women, especially young women.

Maggie Gorham, recent graduate, said “I think when young kids see that there could be a career in sport, it motivates them to give sport a go and see what they might be good at. Knowing that there are now pathways to achieve is a bonus. Especially within the women’s space, there haven’t always been many stepping stones to the highest level. There’s still a long way to go but it’s really exciting to see where women’s sport in general is going”.

Jorja Simpson , Year 9 student and AFL player, said: “Certainly, I think young girls can see that there are massive opportunities for them, and this makes them want to get involved in sports. These pay increases are so beneficial for the growth of women’s sport”.

Abbie Bailey, Year 9 student and touch football player, said “I would love to play Rugby 7s for Australia one day just like my idol, Charlotte Caslick. She started off with touch and now plays for Australia in 7s. I used to never think women in sport got featured as much as men but now, because of the increased popularity of sports like AFL and rugby, women have been treated a lot better. The sporting future for women is going to be much bigger. I also think many mums don’t want their daughters playing rough sports and many think rugby is a guy’s sport. I think the pay never really stopped many females playing the sport they did until they found out how much the men got paid compared to the women! That was a huge reason for females to stop the sport they loved. But now that in some (hopefully all sports in the future) men and women get paid equally, it gives women in sport hope”.