Cricket Australia Wants Sport to Be a Level Playing Field for Women
Cricket Australia's #WatchMe campaign aims to bring greater awareness to women's sports.
In an attempt to celebrate and highlight the feats of the Australian Women’s Cricket Team, Cricket Australia have launched the #WatchMe campaign.
The digital campaign brings together a short online film clip and a range of player-lead social videos — featuring captain Meg Lanning, Ash Gardner, Alyssa Healy, and Megan Schutt — to raise the profile of women’s cricket in Australia, increase sport involvement for women and girls, and pinpoint the significance of women’s leadership in sport.
Cricket Australia’s executive general event manager, Anthony Everard, believes the #WatchMe campaign will tell players stories in an engaging way, and, in turn, rally widespread support for the team.
“As we saw with the positive public response to the Women’s Ashes last year and the ever-growing popularity of the Women's Big Bash League, women’s elite cricket is going from strength to strength and we believe the #WatchMe campaign reflects this momentum, and is a fitting celebration of our athletes,” he stated.
The #WatchMe campaign, in partnership with bespoke sport agency Blood UTD, is the latest action in Cricket Australia's widespread promotional movement. Over the last two years, Cricket Australia have invested over $3 million toward challenging the status quo on gender and sport.
Former Cricket Australia captain Belinda Clark told The Women’s Game she has noticed significant differences in enthusiasm and support levels for women’s cricket since she played for the national team in 2005.
“We’ve provided direct grants to associations to make sure they have a coordinator, a kit, and a coach,” Clark said. “We’ve promoted different formats of the game to make sure that the game is short and fast and exciting and enjoyable, and we’ve connected marketing to ensure the community knows that the sport is for both boys and girls. We’ve also visited schools to make sure that cricket is on their list of options for both girls and boys.”
Increased investment into women’s cricket has seen a development of 1,241 nationwide junior girls teams in 2017, up 50% from the previous season. For Clark, the availability of all-girls teams, as opposed to mixed teams, at a junior level is a major incentive for young girls, as it allows them to play amongst their girlfriends as they would in basketball or netball.
“Australia has always been fairly successful at an international level, but we’ve been doing a lot of work to ensure that kids get the opportunity to play the game in the first place, and then have pathways to follow from there,” Clark said. “It’s a lot clearer what the path looks like for a young girl to play elite cricket. There used to be significant gaps, but now each state and territory has opportunities for talented young girls to be involved in talent squads and state teams."
A miniscule 7% of Australian television sports programming is assigned to women’s sports. As a result of insignificant broadcasting, women receive less sponsorship, less funding and, in tune with women nationwide, lesser wages. Currently, surfing champion Stephanie Gilmore and renowned golfer Karrie Webb are the only two women on Australia’s list of top 50 sports earners.
Despite long standing sports inequality, the past year saw nations around the world take the first decisive steps on the path toward an equal sports playing field. In 2017, Norway made history when the Norwegian men’s national football team took a pay cut so their wages could be the same as the women’s team. Similarly, Saudi Arabia, which has long had some of the worst gender equality in the world, announced physical education would be added to the curriculum for all girls, before stating that women would now be allowed to attend sporting events for the first time.
Countries worldwide are slowly taking strides to make sport equal for all. Let’s hope the #WatchMe campaign promotes an increase in equality for women and girls in all sports - so that we may progress toward living in a world in which nobody is disadvantaged by their gender.