There is a growing uneasiness among the female sporting fraternity in Australia about the devastating consequences of COVID-19 on their sport.
Former Matilda Shelley Youman fears that with all sporting codes set to undergo a major cost cutting regime, it is likely that female leagues around Australia will be at the bottom of the priority list.
“Well unfortunately as times get tough in sport, women’s sport will be the first to suffer,” lamented Youman.
“It's been amazing to see the growth in women's sport but unfortunately many clubs have had to expand into the women's game through pressure from other codes and funding bodies, not because it is financially viable. The current environment will see if sport is truly equal.
Youman encouraged sporting bodies to think of the bigger picture going forward rather than the immediate future.
“It’s important to realise women's sport in Australia is far more successful so for me it is a long term investment," she said.
“Its not an easy decision but they must be seen to show that they have an interest in continuing their support of women's sport. Any sport that cut women from their agenda would be digging a grave.
“I think all sport is under an incredibly difficult financial strain but it will be interesting to see if they favour men over women.”
Up and coming basketballer Shyla Heal, was also hopeful her sport won’t be neglected once the fall out of the current pandemic is dealt with.
“The WNBL is run by Basketball Australia as the elite league in Australia and isn’t funded by the men’s NBL. This is unlike some of the other codes like AFL and cricket which is funded under the same umbrella as men. It’s uncertain times for all sports, both men and women, and I’m hopeful that the timing of our season will allow us to recover.”
Heal, who is widely regarded as one of the best teenage basketball talents in the world, is tipped to go high in the 2021 WNBA draft. She admits though she isn’t worried about what will happen next year and will continue to work hard to achieve her dream.
“Nah I’m not worried about anything I can’t control, just looking forward to the WNBL season and even if I wasn’t drafted it doesn’t change my goal of playing in the WNBA, it just means I’d go a different route.”
In positive news, AFL commission chairman Richard Goyder promised all 18 AFL clubs will survive the COVID-19 virus and crucially, he said the 14 AFLW teams will also survive.
That was a bold and strong stance. Easy for an organisation which received a loan of $600 million from NAB and ANZ, but an important statement nonetheless.
In NRLW, it has been reported the Rugby League Players Association (RLPA) advised they would subsidise between $50,000 and $100,000 to pay out the elite contracts of Jillaroos players.
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