New series profiling women and girls in sport

By Shepparton News

Look out for a new series — that begins next week — focusing on shining a light on sportswomen and girls across the region.

The News has partnered with Valley Sport to bring you Our Game: Women's Stories Shaping Sport highlighting the brilliant — and often under-appreciated — contributions females of the region make to their local sporting clubs and organisations, on and off the field.

Valley Sport is a Regional Sports Assembly, a not-for-profit sporting and recreation service organisation based in Shepparton since 1985.

It supports grassroots sport and active recreation clubs in the Goulburn Valley and beyond, with an aim to develop healthy, active and connected communities; Healthy Clubs, Healthy People.

It also provides information, advice and support to clubs, leagues and associations in its region, acting as their voice where required and promoting and supporting projects that provide improved sport and recreation outcomes for the Goulburn Valley.

A key component of Valley Sport is providing a level playing field for all and it is this focus on gender equality in the sporting landscape that has brought about this series

“There is a current lack of female representation in sports media and current sports coverage is incredibly gendered,” Valley Sport project officer Lucy Marino said.

“Women's sport makes up just 10 per cent of live sporting broadcasts and unfortunately this helps create and support unconscious social norms and stereotypes.

“For example, women’s sport coverage often focuses on the athletes’ age, appearance, or family life, while men are often highlighted for their athletic skills and abilities.

“In other words, it creates a bias that sport is a male-oriented activity.

“These social norms and biases are a major contributing factor that leads to participation dropout, self esteem issues and unhealthy stereotypes based on masculinity and femininity.”

Our Game: Women's Stories Shaping Sport will look to help bridge the gap between male and female sports coverage by profiling the amazing women that are leading the way in sport across the Goulburn Valley.

“In order to break down these social norms and forge new normalities that promote a fair portrayal of both women and men it is important to create a collection of real stories and healthy images that highlight women and girls as athletes, leaders and champions and give them the chance to share their voice with the community,” Marino said.

“The overall goal of the initiative is for any reader to see these stories and be uplifted and empowered — to see and believe that women keeping active and excelling as athletes is normal.”

Each Thursday a different district female athlete, leader or champion will be highlighted — so make sure you contact The News or Valley Sport to nominate those around you to be profiled in the series.