Program helps Monica to lead the way for surfing
TORQUAY’S Monica Fleming hopes to use the skills she has learned from a Sport Australia course to inspire the next generation of female surfers.
Fleming, who is the program development co-ordinator for Surfing Victoria, will have the last of her six weeks of workshops in the 2021 Women Leaders in Sport (WLIS) program this week.
Funded by the federal government and managed by Sport Australia in partnership with the Office for Women, WLIS aims to provide women with development opportunities and enable more women to reach their full leadership potential in the sports industry.
The WLIS leadership workshops provide participants with the skills needed to navigate and strengthen their leadership pathway, help them learn to effectively manage the challenges within their sport and life, and gain invaluable support from the experiences and knowledge of other women.
Fleming said her WLIS group was facilitated by Geelong’s Sue Cormack, who helped found disability support service Leisure Networks.
“She’s amazing and has been giving us the confidence to embrace how we want to progress in leadership and what that means for sport,” she said. “My hope is that I have a little bit more confidence from the skills that I’ve learned to implement them into my everyday working life, in the women and girls’ space I’m working in, and pass them on.
“I think that’s one of the things that’s so important; letting women know there is a space for them in the sport, and that they’re valued.”
She said the COVID-19 pandemic had been an unexpected “little bit of a godsend” for surfing as it had driven up participation.
“Of course, with that comes more women in the water,” Fleming said.
“Surfing Victoria has been working in the women and girls’ space for more than 20 years, so every little bit that’s been put into it, we’re seeing the rewards now, and I think that’s a testament to the organisation as a whole.”
Surfing will be on its biggest stage yet later this year when the sport makes its debut at the Olympic Games, to be held in Tokyo.
“I hope that there’s a couple of little girls watching the Australian surf team absolutely rip it to shreds and they say ‘I could be that’, and then in four or eight years’ time, there’s more women from Australia being competitive in contests,” Fleming said.
“It could really put surfing on the map.”