On International Women’s Day people all around the world are making a pledge for parity. As a hockey player in Australia I can be thankful that we are one of the few sports where men and women are treated and paid equally.
As a dual gender sport the men and women all train at the same venue in Perth. The amazing staff is comprised of both men and women in roles as physiotherapists, doctors, strength and conditioning, and physiologist coaches. Our budgets are based on our world ranking and therefore the better we perform the more money our programs get. So on a day where we celebrate the amazing females in our society and put light on the inequalities that do exist, I feel extremely proud to be part of a sport where females are level.
As a Hockeyroo we sometimes train more than the men, our program is intense and everyone is fully committed. We work just as hard as them and sacrifice many things in our quest to win a gold medal at the Olympics. We are strict on our diets, have movie nights instead of late nights out, move across the country to train, end relationships and make new ones. I am a female hockey athlete and this is my life.
Because our sport is still in the process of building a following the media attention and recognition is scarce. It is difficult to compete with the football and cricket codes, despite our hockey teams being amongst the most successful teams in the world. Our men and women are equal in this respect also, as it is hard for even the men to get on television despite the skill and speed of the game. According to Towards a Level Playing Field; Sport and Gender in Australia Media report compiled by the Australian Sports Commission (ASC), women feature in only seven per cent of sports programming in Australia. Most people think we play hockey only in the Olympic year when we get mainstream coverage, however, we are training and competing year in year out, with little airtime compared to the marquee sports.
We are grateful that ABC picked up a number of our games on free to air television in recent years, including the 2014 World Cup, and Fox Sports has shown all the World League and Champions Trophy events in the past 18 months. Fox Sports has also shown highlights of our series against China in 2015 and GB, more recently. Many of our games are also streamed online, like the series against GB, and that is a huge step for our sport. Yet as a whole it is this parity that I want to pledge for.
Female sports people offer society positive role models for the next generation. With the obesity epidemic a real and immediate issue for Australia we need girls to be in the media, sharing their healthy, happy, and positive lifestyle that sport has provided them with. I am lucky that hockey has this equality that some sports sorely lack, but females across all codes of sport have a powerful message for young girls and this should be shared. I pledge for parity of female sport in the media, but know just how lucky I am as a hockey player in Australia.
Show your support for International Women's Day via social media using the hashtag #PledgeForParity.
Content: Anna Flanagan, Hockeyroo