Grant to bring gender equality in sport closer

March 23, 2024 BY

Who runs the world: Girls and women in sport received a boost from new Play Our Way Program, which Federal member for Bendigo Lisa Chesters said would help to build a fairer sporting culture.

A FEDERAL grant aimed at supporting women’s participation in sport was announced last week.

Federal Member for Bendigo, Lisa Chesters, met with AFL team Bendigo Thunder to promote the $200 million Play Our Way Program, which will fund projects to upgrade sporting programs, facilities, and equipment.

“This grant program will not only help women and girls maintain better physical and mental health, but will contribute to a sporting culture that treats women with equality, fairness and respect,” Ms Chesters said.

“Too often in our community women and girls are changing in men’s bathrooms, wearing hand me down boys’ uniforms, playing with men’s equipment on fields that they wouldn’t let the boys’ teams train on.”

A 2022 study found 50 per cent of males and 32 per cent of women played sport at least once a week, with female disengagement from sport increasing during teenage years.

Barriers for women in sport range from family pressures and commitments, feeling unsafe while exercising, and not being able to access uniforms and equipment.

Bendigo Thunder Captain and assistant coach Shae Murphy has played AFL for 16 years and said she’s seen the sport grow to include more female players.

“I’ve certainly seen it from its infancy where I was the only girl playing in the area and then grew it from there,” said Murphy.

The grant program can assist clubs like Bendigo Thunder increase women’s participation by funding safe and stable sporting environments.

“It’s super hard to hang on to players throughout the year just due to some barriers of being a woman in sport,” said Murphy.

“What we’ve found is that we don’t have a lot to offer players that are coming to our club.

“The only reason they come to our club is because we have a good reputation for being the only standalone women’s footy club in Bendigo since before there was a league here.”

Bendigo Thunder will play their first game of the season in a few weeks but in the meantime, Murphy said they intend to apply for a grant to improve the club environment.

“It’s more about, for us sustainability and the growth of our footy club, but obviously women’s footy and sport in general, and just creating a place where young girls can grow up and play footy and know that it’s not going to fold,” she said.