Imagine Victoria in 10 years’ time as the best place in the world for girls to play sport. What does it look like?
It’s an interesting thought, and one that was posed to over 100 girls aged between 13-15 at the Change Our Game Girls in Sport Summit last weekend at Melbourne Park.
Marking the International Day of the Girl, the summit was the first of its kind in Victoria and was organised by the Office for Women in Sport and Recreation. Representing a range of sports, young athletes from across the state shared their opinions and ideas on what the future of sport should look like and how we can get there.
“Today is so important because we don’t hear enough from this age group of girls,” Dr Bridie O’Donnell, Head of the Office for Women in Sport and Recreation said.
“13-15 years old is often the time when girls are dropping out of competitive sport – we want to know why that is. We also want to know what they love about sport and what we can do better to support them.”
“We’ve partnered with organisations here in Victoria who are really interested in finding out what these girls really think.”
Facilitated by Sixfold Consulting, the girls were quizzed on a range of topics that included the future of women and girl’s sport, participation, clubs and facilities and leadership.
“We’ve been really pleased and really excited to be part of this initiative to Change the Game,” Tal Karp, Sixfold Consulting Director, and former Matilda’s star.
“We’ve never run a deliberation like this, and we’re doing it because we think that these voices really matter. The ideas that they are coming up with are creative, exciting, bold and interesting.”
“The Office for Women in Sport and Recreation are going to look through every single idea created today and it’s going to define the way they look forward and implement initiatives to change the way that we do things for girls and women’s sport and recreation.”
One of the ‘decision makers of tomorrow’ was 15-year-old Clifton Hill FC player Vara Tyrikos, who was eager to have her voice heard.
“It’s been really amazing to be in a room with so many girls who also play sport and also have experienced similar things to me,” Vara said.
“One of the main visions we came up was around equal pay for women at the professional level. We thought that government could play a role in this to allow women and girls to receive the same treatment and respect as men.”
“We also talked about finding coaches that knew how to coach girls and understood the differences between men and women. We all like to fight for equality, but there are differences in coaching girls and understanding their motives.”
15-year-old Yarra Junior Football League AFL player Emily Bacon agreed.
“I think it’s good to hear from girls who are actually playing the game,” Emily said.
“We talked about leadership qualities and what makes a good leader. We agreed encouragement was a good quality which is very important at our age – making sure that everyone has an equal opportunity to get involved.”
Bridie O'Donnell was extremely pleased with the day and praised all the girls involved.
“The girls showed immense maturity, leadership and passion, and the data they provided will be collated and used to inform future programs and strategy for state sporting organisations,” said Bridie.
The Office for Women in Sport and Recreation was created in 2017 by the Victorian Government in response to the Inquiry into Women and Girls in Sport and Recreation. It is the first Office of it’s kind in Australia and is supported by the biggest investment by any state government into facilities, participation and leadership opportunities across all levels of sport and recreation for women and girls.