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Matilda watch and why I’m apologising to women’s sport

DO you remember when everyone derided Cathy Freeman’s gold medal at the Sydney Olympics because it was “only women’s running”?

You don’t? Me either. We celebrated her achievement as our Cathy captivated the world.

Cathy Freeman’s exciting Olympic gold medal was never derided because as “women’s sport”.

Having said that, it’s time for me to apologise to women’s sport.

Way back in the dark ages, a female uni classmate asked why more women’s sport wasn’t shown on television.

In the full bloom of my youthful experience I took control of the conversation and described market forces – if there was enough interest broadcasters would be making a dollar and more people would be buying tickets to sporting events.

My theory was that the most athletic and powerful performers got bums on seats, not half-arsed competition, and women’s sport was therefore less worthy of attention and $$$.

It was a preview of what disgruntled men continue to angrily type in comments sections in 2019, seemingly surprised that women are actually getting attention for their skills and are worthy of watching.

As I continued lecturing on the futility of watching women’s sport, my classmate let rip, “ex-squeeze-me!”

I wasn’t taken aback enough by the turn of the phrase to stop talking and my mouth continued dribbling shit, holding the floor like a mature-age student finally given the chance to share their wisdom.

Anyway, 20-odd years on and much wiser, I want to apologise to my classmate – she was clearly ahead of her time and I’d like her to know I’ve caught up.

We’ve seen massive growth in women’s sport in recent years – soccer, Aussie rules and cricket are the prime examples, while netball has taken greater strides in professionalism.

We are seeing what can be achieved when sporting bodies take enough time and spend enough dollars to market women’s sport to all comers.

I’m still no convert to AFLW, but I’ve been watching soccer’s W-League and the Matildas for years.

I love Lisa De Vanna’s tenacity, Sam Kerr’s freakish talent and Alanna Kennedy’s ferocious attack on the ball and player.

And, if you haven’t seen her yet, you absolutely have to get around Ellie Carpenter – she’s got pace to burn.

If you truly believe people are only interested in viewing the most athletic and powerful performers, not a half-arsed competition, stop watching your local division seven footy club (no offence, lads) – it’s a bullshit excuse.

We’re now in a world where women’s sport is a thing.

Even if you’re not on board it will remain a thing and further investment will lift the standard and, ultimately, prove you wrong.

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I want my daughters to live in a world where women can be professional sportspeople – not an audience to a parade of men.

Our Golden Generation of Matildas defeated Brazil 3-2 in the women’s World Cup early this morning (Friday, June 14).


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Growing up in Munno Para and attending Trinity College, Rob completed a journalism degree at the University of SA. After moving to the Riverland and working in television and at several local newspapers for more than a decade, Rob and his family returned to live in Gawler. Rob is a passionate Aussie Rules, football and cricket fan and collects LPs.