The Victorian Government is getting on with ensuring sports organisations like Pool Victoria and their staff can continue to get the most out of the sports they love.
The term ‘wearing many hats’ is a term we use in sport often when we are describing the role of administrators like Andrea Bird, long-standing Pool Victoria Project Officer.
“My role at Pool Victoria can best be described as anything from ‘bottle washer’ to ‘head information officer’ and everything in between,” Andrea joked.
“I am the only paid member of the team, we are a very small organisation and at the moment I average anywhere from 40-45 hours per week. Only 24 hours of that is paid, the remainder of the work I do is on a volunteer basis.”
Andrea has been a valued member of the Pool Victoria team for over 12 years. Not being a pool player herself, her introduction to the sport was through association however Andrea quickly put her stamp on things and from that point on things fell into place.
“I initially became involved when my partner took up the sport and decided to take on the role of Vice President at the Association – I did get quite swept up in it all,” Andrea said.
“As the Project Officer, it is my responsibility to run the Pool Victoria office. I handle all administration tasks and I am the primary contact for all correspondence – be that via phone, email, website, social or just people calling in. To say my phone runs hot would be an understatement!”
“Another major part of my role is focused on competitions – events and tournaments. I am responsible for all travel arrangements, accommodation, uniforms, presentations, dinners and state teams.”
Quite the list of operational tasks when you consider Andrea also sits on the Board of Pool Victoria.
Women and girls' participation in pool is a specific passion for Andrea and as part of her complex and demanding role, she has championed participation by developing and managing a range of female specific programs, designed to get women involved in the sport that she has invested so much into.
“Women and girls participation is really important to me but I must say, our long standing President, Don Colbert has been such a positive force for change within our sport and his work has ensured that Pool is always ready to embrace inclusiveness, equal opportunities for all and helping shape our sport into a friendly and safe sport that everyone can play.” Andrea said,
“Without Don’s support and leadership, Pool Victoria would not be in the position it is today.”
Dr Bridie O’Donnell, Head of the Office for Women in Sport and Recreation, praised the work Andrea does on a daily basis,
“Working in a sport with little head office or behind-the-scenes support is a challenge and through Andrea’s passion, drive and exceptional work ethic, she has ensured Pool continues to thrive.”
Pool Victoria were one of the first state sporting bodies to appoint a female President and they have consistently had women in board roles over the past 20 years. Not a bad effort when you consider that 90% of their total members are male.
“We have never had any challenges in ensuring woman have held visible, decision making roles in pool”, Andrea said.
“We currently have two women on our board and that will soon be three (out of 8). Our goal is to have 50 per cent female representation on the board and our AGM will be in January so we will be working towards that.”
From a participation perspective, it is a bit of a different story. Traditionally a male dominated sport, the Pool Victoria’s membership is 90% male and 10% female.
“This is a stat we are working to balance out” Andrea said.
“Where we are starting to see a shift is in our junior female numbers – over the past year we have seen an 8 per cent increase in our junior girls numbers which is really positive. In addition, we have seen a massive 40 per cent increase in female participation at our events. These events are State Team trials and these numbers prove that there are women out there who feel confident to give pool a go.”
Sport and Recreation Victoria’s Relationship Manager for Pool Victoria, Ben O’Brien praised both the vision of Pool Victoria and the drive individuals such as Andrea bring to the sport.
“There is no doubt Pool Victoria is one of our smaller sports in terms of participation and resources, however their performance when it comes to leadership opportunities for women and girls is more akin to that of a much larger organisation. Andrea and Pool Victoria have been clear in their vision, kept their goals simple, and haven’t been distracted by having a myriad of smaller projects to worry about. It’s a “quality over quantity” approach that is starting to pay off for the sport in general, and women and girls in particular.”
Pool Victoria are one of almost 100 state sport and recreation organisations benefitting from the $25.9m Supporting Victorian Sport and Recreation Program.