Siren 68: Hana Basic, By The White Line, Natalya Diehm & more

A Women in Sport Collective

“I see swimming as a symptom, not the disease,” former CEO of Swimming Australia Leigh Russell told the Sydney Morning Herald over the weekend. Leigh’s comments came in the wake of some pretty damning posts on social media from Rio Olympian Maddie Groves alleging the exploitation, body shaming and gaslighting of young women and girls in the sport. 

These kinds of stories are unfortunately all too common.  

As athletes, coaches, administrators and fans from grassroots sports to the elite, women and girls are routinely discriminated against. Those covering sports are far from immune. 

When you bring these various people together: athletes and sports journos and coaches and fans and administrators, you get a system. A system, as Moya Dodd so perfectly put it, that “began by excluding women from participating at all, then tolerated decades of unequal resourcing, and has now evolved into one where women can play sport (although not on an equal basis with men) but not manage or govern it.”

Kate Palmer, the former CEO of Sports Australia, called the elite sporting environment in Australia a “boys’ club”.

“For a long time we have focused on fixing the women, the idea that they need mentoring, courses, a program,” Kate Palmer told the Sydney Morning Herald. “At the end of the day, the system is broken.” 

Yes, the system is broken. But it can be rebuilt. Rebuilt in a way that not only says it values diversity but actively pursues it. Rebuilt in a way that deliberately and diligently pushes back against the inherent biases that have excluded far too many for too long. Rebuilt in a way that opens doors and opportunities and resources, that prioritises fairness and respect. This is possible. We have the people and the resources we just need the will. 

In this issue

This week Official Siren Collaborator Rachel Bach returns with a new instalment of her By The White Line Diaries. This edition shares the story of being a freelance sport photographer in a city in an endless lockdown loop. Wrestling expert Scarlett Harris dives into the WWE’s apparent misunderstanding of women’s friendships. Linda Pearce speaks with Australian sprinter Hana Basic ahead of the Tokyo Olympics, and Mary Konstantopoulos speaks with another Tokyo-bound Australian, BMX Freestyler Natalya Diehm.

By The White Line: Take Two

By Rachel Bach

Back from a short break, Siren Collaborator Rachel Bach, known as By The White Line, details her return to freelance work after repeated Melbourne lockdowns.

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WWE Doesn’t Understand Women’s Friendships

By Scarlett Harris

Wrestling expert Scarlett Harris returns to Siren, focusing on the WWE’s lack of understanding of women’s friendships, and how that heavily impacts their wrestling storylines.

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Newly dedicated: Hana Basic is Tokyo bound

By Linda Pearce

Green and gold with an undertow of blue and yellow. Sprinter Hana Basic will represent Australia, with her Bosnian heritage not too far from thought.

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Natalya Diehm bringing Aussie BMX to Tokyo

By Mary Konstantopoulos

Natalya Diehm speaks to Siren Collaborator Mary Konstantopoulos about her BMX journey and being one of the first athletes to compete in the sport at an Olympics.

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Congratulations to Mary Konstantopoulos/Ladies Who League on eight excellent years! Here’s to many more. 

Brittany Carter looks at the rolling substitution in Super Netball, who is using the rule (introduced in 2020) the most and how it’s changing the game.  

There’s a shiny new podcast on the block! 

Some big WBBL News!

Even spread of talent causing heat in NRLW

'I'm just very lucky': Chair fall reveals shock diagnosis for Davis

Multi-sport superstar Brooke Walker spoke to Mary Konstantopoulos about her return to rugby league. 

Tash Rigby: Signed Up For Perth's Glory Bid

How Matilda Alex Chidiac’s Japan move could open up new futures for Australia’s women footballers

Sam Lewis looks at the Matildas performance in their goalless draw with Sweden. And Sam’s analysis of the Matildas form continues, covering the “Four Things We Learned from Australia v Sweden”

For more football analysis (and plenty of laughs) make sure you’re subscribed to The Far Post podcast.

Australian Opal Tessa Lavey believes the culture of the Opals is what will set them apart in Tokyo. 

Swimming Australia faces questions after tough week, but allegations of toxic culture need backing up.

We’ve been following Stotty’s cancer battle closely, and are blown away by her $36K raised as part of the World’s Greatest Shave!

Runner Up

The Matilda’s have been back in action recently, and Hayley Raso hit a milestone!

Siren 67: a different kind of visibility, softball history, trade wrap & more

A Women in Sport Collective

Yesterday, a number of women were recognised in the 2021 Queen’s Birthday Honours for their service to sport and active recreation and we wish a hearty congratulations to all of them.

We know that women serve sport in ways that often go unrecognised, without celebration and sometimes without gratitude. They work to make sport better, and we recognise that ongoing work. We see it, celebrate it and are eternally grateful for it. 

See the women who have been recognised for their dedication to sport this year.

Awards like these are also a time to reflect.

Governor-General David Hurley, who oversees the awards process, announced that this year in the order’s general division, 44 percent of honourees are women, “the highest ever percentage of women” (source: The Age). We are slowly seeing more women recognised. But there is still room for growth. We need more women across all the categories, and we also need more celebration and recognition of the work done by people in diverse communities and from different lived experiences. We can all play a role here. For a start, look at how you might be able to nominate a woman for next year. It’s easier than you think!

Another point of reflection is how awards like this can cause great conflict for honourees and future nominees. Earlier this year Dr Indigo Thúy Willing, someone whose work we love and greatly respect, decided to hand back her OAM.

Dr Willing is not alone in making this step. Others have also reflected on what this, and other awards, mean as we decide what we stand for. We support this stance and the dialogue it drives. We need these discussions, we need to look at our history and what we value.

We also need to celebrate the people who are deserving of being celebrated. We can do both. For those women who have been recognised for their work in sport this year, congratulations, we are thrilled for you and thank you for all you do to make sport more equitable, inclusive, safe and successful. 

But let’s keep the discussions going to drive the change we need to keep celebrating the women who deserve to be celebrated.

In this issue

Today we are incredibly excited to share the first piece from our new round of Emerging Sports Writer Program participants, in conjunction with Football Victoria. Lauren McIntosh shares the unusual way she was exposed to women’s sport—particularly women’s football—which now sees her playing the game. Kirby Fenwick brings back her five moments in sporting history series, this time looking into softball’s history in Australia. Gemma Bastiani recaps the AFLW trade period, with thanks to sponsor WARF Radio. And Official Siren Collaborator Mary Konstantopolous shares an interview with Australian Opal Katie-Rae Ebzery.

If you’re opening this newsletter as it drops, you still have time to register to hear Kasey Symons present a lecture on women in sport media coverage during covid-19 at an online event for the Hawthorn Library at 1pm AEST. The talk highlights the work we did in collaboration with Swinburne University in 2020 on the coverage of women in sport. 

Gemma had the privilege of speaking with The Significant Others—Hester Mary Brown and Mardi Dangerfield—about the AFLW trade period. You can check it out on Instagram!

Bending the narrative: how film & TV makes women’s sport visible

By Lauren McIntosh

Emerging Sports Writer Program participant Lauren McIntosh shares the unusual, yet valid avenue through which she was exposed to, and grew to love, women’s sport.

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Five moments in the history of softball you may not know about

By Kirby Fenwick

This past Sunday—June 13th—was World Softball Day, and what better way to celebrate the sport than by exploring its rich and fascinating history!

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AFLW 2021 Trade Wrap

By Gemma Bastiani

Presented by WARF Radio, it’s time for a comprehensive recap of the 2021 AFLW trade period, which saw a number of high profile players traded.

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Siren Collaborator

Katie-Rae Ebzery talks about the Tokyo Olympics, her role in the Opals leadership squad and visibility for women’s basketball with Siren Collaborator Mary Konstantopoulos.

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A huge achievement indeed! Congratulations to Julie Fitzgerald! 

In other netball news, there’s a new CEO in town! Kelly Ryan will take charge of Netball Australia in July. Ryan spoke with Jenny Sinclair from Netball Scoop about her priorities and netball’s opportunity to think outside the square. Ryan also chatted with This Netty Life and answered some fan questions. 

First among the new CEO’s challenges will likely be how to make netball a more welcoming place for Indigenous Australians and the lingering conversation around West Coast Fever and those salary cap breaches

Could men's netball be the answer to growing the sport's reach and commercial appeal?

It’s the news we’ve been excitedly waiting for and it’s here. The NRLW will be expanding!

The expansion is extra special for Parramatta Eels fan and Siren collaborator Mary Konstantopoulos

“I can’t wait to be there in the stands when the Eels women’s team take the field for the first time later this year. I may even shed a tear.”

What a squad! 

Australia's Hockeyroos name Rachael Lynch in Tokyo Olympics squad

"If you can create change - not only for yourself but for your community - then that's an opportunity that you should always grab."

Evonne Goolagong Cawley ‘lucky’ not to have become member of the stolen generations

W-League deserves better in new soccer TV broadcast deal

The Matildas are playing another friendly this week. Here are all the details and where you can watch.

Setting a new world record? Kaylee McKeown is doing it at 19 years of age.

Runner Up

Footy icons supporting footy icons. How good was it to see Daisy Pearce head down the slide for the Big Freeze?

Siren 66: AFLW player development, Dani Stevens, Super Netball & more

A Women in Sport Collective

Amidst yet another Melbourne lockdown, we’re celebrating 18 months of Siren and spending some time reflecting on why we put in all those extra, unpaid hours.

While we’re in the throes of round two of our Emerging Sports Writer Program—kindly supported by Football Victoria—and interviewing candidates for our next Siren x Deakin University internship, we’re finding ourselves motivated. Energised. Reminded of why we love women’s sport, and sharing women in sport stories with all of you.

Working with women with a keen desire to pursue a sports writing career—all in various capacities—takes us back to the basics of it all. Stripping back the stresses and the extra hours and the frustrations, it really just comes down to why we started this in the first place. Ensuring diverse communities know that sport is for them, even if they feel like their favourite sporting league has never had them in mind. Telling women that there is an important space for them to take up when it comes to sports media. That they have a voice that is worth hearing.

We’re excited  to see what our Emerging Sports Writers produce, what stories they’re going to tell and what contribution they’re going to make. But in the meantime, keep an eye out, because we’ll be sharing their voices with you in the coming weeks, and we cannot wait.

In this issue

Gemma Bastiani has a new long read for you all—this one about list and player development in the AFLW, specifically at the Melbourne Demons. Official Siren Collaborator Mary Konstantopoulos spoke with Olympian Dani Stevens, and netball expert Erin Delahunty has an update on this year’s Super Netball season.

New date! 

Kate O’Halloran and our inaugural Emerging Sports Writer Program participant Courtney Hagen will be appearing in this excellent event from the Wheeler Centre as part of their Broadly Speaking series. Due to Victoria’s lockdown, the event has been rescheduled for July 13. If you have tickets, they will remain valid for the new date otherwise grab yours now!

Kasey also has this event coming up focused on her research during last year’s sport shut down, and the way men’s sport still dominated the media - a note that you can still register but if COVID-19 restrictions are not lifted, the event will likely move online so stay tuned for updates!

Gemma and friend of Siren Rana Hussain release a weekly footy podcast each Wednesday called Footy, Actually for those of you who continue to follow Aussie Rules through the men’s season.

AFLW Player development: how the Demons are getting it right

By Gemma Bastiani

In the ‘part time’ world of the AFLW, player development looks different. But exactly how are the Melbourne Demons ensuring their playing list is elite?

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Four things we’ve learned so far this Super Netball season

By Erin Delahunty

Halfway through the 2021 Suncorp Super Netball season, we’ve learned plenty about the state of each side. Erin Delahunty takes us through four key points.

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Dani Stevens: from Little Athletics to her fourth Olympic Games

By Mary Konstantopoulos

Australian Olympian Dani Stevens is set to compete in her fourth Olympic Games, and more determined than ever to medal. Mary Konstantopoulos spoke to Stevens.

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“They are special individually and frighteningly good in combination.” — Erin Delhunty on the form of Queensland Firebirds duo Kim Ravaillion and Gretel Bueta

Megan Maurice on the good and bad in the social media fan communities that spin around netball. 

Does Super Netball need a match review panel?

If you missed the Swifts Giants game on Sunday afternoon, Siren’s favourite Netball Nerd has you covered!

Get all the latest Super Netball news from Netball Scoop and check out the latest episode of This Netty Life and the gamechangers from round six.

“Netball is one of the only Australian sports that has female head coaches, many with children, at the elite level.”

“Being a mixed race bi-sexual woman is a really strong part of my identity and one that I am proud of.” — West Coast Fever’s Stacey Francis-Bayman on Pride and visibility. 

A new program from the AIS is working to “increase the representation of women across senior jobs in Australian sport and other professions.”

Matildas assistant coach Mel Andreatta on the future of women’s football in Australia and why emerging coaches need just as much support as emerging players. 

There’s a new episode of The Far Post out!

Congrats to Sam Kerr for making the WSL Team of the Year! 

Bronte Campbell: ‘I’ve been injured for five years, half my swimming career’

Simone Biles dazzles to claim seventh US gymnastics title with stunning ease and if you’re keen to know a little more about what makes Biles just so good, this Twitter thread is well worth a read. 

In hockey news, the Hockeyroos prevail over the Blacksticks in the Trans-Tasman series decider

“We've been fighting for a place for a long time”—the Vanuatu women’s beach volleyball team and their bid to qualify for Tokyo

Melinda Farrell on the cricket revolution happening in Brazil. 

We are stoked to see the excellent Rana Hussain is part of the upcoming Muslim Women In Sport Global Summit!

We will never get sick of seeing young girls meeting their heroes!

Runner Up

How good is a personal best?

Siren 65: Pride in community sport, Alyce Wood, AFLW trade period & more

A Women in Sport Collective

Today we awoke to the news that Naomi Osaka has dropped out of competing at the French Open and will take some time away from tennis.

We are so sad that her need to distance herself from media to protect her mental health, and desire to draw attention to press conferences practices, has resulted, not in an open conversation, but such backlash that we have pushed an athlete out from the sport she loves when she was calling out for help.

Last week Osaka tweeted that she would not be doing post-match press conferences at the upcoming French Open:

Osaka chose to use her platform as one of the most famous and influential athletes in the world to bring attention to the serious issue of athletes’ mental health, and the impact the media has in this respect. But her actions did not drive a broader conversation about mental health, athletes protection and media.

Media, event organisers, fans and fellow athletes were quick to jump on Osaka to admonish her for this stance, effectively proving the point the tennis player was trying to make. And while athletes have responsibilities to use their voice and image to promote their sport, communicate with their fans and provide a connection for sponsorship and ad revenue, they also have the right to challenge the processes. They have a right to ask for consideration, for protection and to open the conservation for how sports media and athletes can work together for better coverage, more meaningful coverage and more creative coverage.

We 100% support this kind of conversation. We support any athlete who uses their platform to challenge the status quo. And we know that not everyone agrees with the steps Osaka has taken, and are calling out that as an athlete, this is part of the job. But that doesn’t mean we can’t take the time to hear her, and other athletes’ concerns and ideas for change. We can use Osaka’s stance to reflect, ask questions and think about what works and what doesn’t in sports media. And any kind of conversation that serves to better the media landscape for athletes, journalists and broadcasters can only be positive and productive. Let’s always invite these conversations to continue to rally for change rather than banish players for having a voice.

In this issue

This week, Fitzroy Football Club’s Kirsty Marshall shares why Pride rounds are so important to amateur sporting clubs and their communities. Official Siren Collaborator Mary Konstantopoulos shares the story of Alyce Wood as she prepares for the 2021 Tokyo Olympics, and Gemma Bastiani analyses each AFLW club with the trade and sign period underway.

Our very own Kasey Symons was on The Minefield with Waleed Aly and Scott Stephens discussing whether it’s ever okay to abandon your team. Kasey also spoke on ABC Radio about Naomi Osaka’s mental health stance.

New date! 

Kate O’Halloran and our inaugural Emerging Sports Writer Program participant Courtney Hagen will be appearing in this excellent event from the Wheeler Centre as part of their Broadly Speaking series. Due to Victoria’s lockdown, the event has been rescheduled for July 13. If you have tickets, they will remain valid for the new date otherwise grab yours now!

Why Pride Rounds in amateur adult sport will always be important

By Kirsty Marshall

Fitzroy FC player Kirsty Marshall writes on her experience playing in a Pride Game and what this kind of celebration and visibility means to her.

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Alyce Wood: Tokyo is a family affair

By Mary Konstantopoulos

While these Olympics will be different with a lack of crowds, Mary Konstantopoulos shares why, for canoer Alyce Wood, it will be a family affair.

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AFLW Trade & Sign Period: what does your club need?

By Gemma Bastiani

Another AFLW trade and sign period is upon us, with a number of big name players rumoured to be finding new homes. To get you up to speed, we’ve analysed each club, their list changes so far, and the kinds of roles they’ll be looking to fill.

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Watch this:

And then read this: The best debut in netball history? Vixens reap rewards of late call-up

What a debut for Rahni Samason and what a round of Super Netball! 

For more on the young guns coming through Super Netball, check out this Netball Scoop chat with West Coast Fever’s Emma Cosh

From the ABC’s Brittany Carter, Meet Gabby Coffey, the new Indigenous star on the rise in Super Netball

Liz Ellis looks at what has changed at the highest level in netball after the 2020 Indigenous Round and the ensuing fallout. 

There was some big broadcasting news last week for the W-League. There’s still some questions about what this means for the women’s comp.

Check out the latest episode of The Far Post for more on the broadcast deal (plus lots of other things!). And don’t miss this rundown of how the Matildas stars went in England this season. 

Add these dates to your diaries! 

Australia’s first queen of sevens rugby Emilee Cherry has announced her retirement just two months out from the Tokyo Olympics.

Elite women's rugby league team travels 4,000km to play 'home' game

The Australian women’s water polo team for the Tokyo games has been announced. Among those selected is Rowie Webster, who Siren caught up with last year.

Australian boxer, Caitlin Parker discusses her journey to the Tokyo Olympic Games.

Carlee Taylor on what it takes to be a professional cyclist.  Plus Lauren Kitchen retires from pro peloton.

“The women were there on the same day, surfing the same waves. Women want equal pay for equal waves.” 

Eating disorders and energy deficiency: athletes straddle fine line in pursuit of goals

It’s a long and complex journey for the Aussie Spirit who left for Tokyo yesterday. 

WNBA coach suspended, fined for comment about Liz Cambage's weight

Megan Hustwaite caught up with Shyla Heal to chat about her debut for the Chicago Sky in the WNBA.

Tess Madgen looks set for her first Olympics with the Opals, Siren collaborator Mary Konstantopoulos chats with Tess. 

Two women are spearheading a new generation of Garbutt Magpies stars.

The AFLW Sign and Trade period kicked off yesterday, make sure you’re following Siren’s AFLW Oracle Gemma Bastiani for all the trade details. 

Runner Up

Siren 64: Tully Bevilaqua, Skye Nicolson, what makes Ash Barty so good & more

A Women in Sport Collective

In the wake of last week’s discussion of netball and its toughness, the power inherent in the voices of athletes—former and current—was yet again highlighted. While historically the men who play sport have never shied away from using whatever platforms are available to speak to issues of equity, as Liz Ellis writes, women are finding their voices in increasingly powerful and important ways. 

“In short, female athletes have found their voices, and are increasingly not afraid to use them. Loudly.”

Social media has provided a direct avenue to fellow athletes, but also to fans, who can heed athlete’s rallying cries and amplify their messages. That so many are using this avenue to open up discussions on gender, race and broader conversation around equity is to be applauded. 

“Why not take the opportunity to make change, to get your point across, to start debate, to improve the outcomes for your sport, your race, your gender? Being good at sport doesn’t make you immune from injustice. In fact it can further open your eyes to its existence and its effect...” Ellis wrote. 

This use of voice is, in many ways, a taking up of space. More, it’s a demand for space and for all that that space brings. There are parallels in the discussion around Tayla Harris and her contract. Putting aside the debate about Harris’ form, the broader issue here is the pay gap that persists in many professional sports. For many women in the AFLW, NRLW and W-League, the money they receive to play at the elite level is impossible to live on. There’s no doubt this stifles not only the growth and development of the individuals but the leagues themselves. 

It also stifles voices, as Ellis wrote, “...the threat of being booted from your position as captain, or your place in the team, has been used by sporting administrators since Mary pulled on the GK bib for Bethlehem to get their athletes to toe the line.”

Women in professional sport are expected to be grateful. To take what they’re given—or more accurately, what they’ve worked incredibly hard to get—and be quiet, basically. That they are increasingly unafraid to be loud, to ask questions and to demand a response is a positive and important change. It’s one we wholeheartedly support. Here’s to those voices getting louder, to more of them, and to the change they can bring. 

In this issue

Kasey Symons caught up with former Aussie Opal and WNBA champion Tully Bevilaqua about her new podcast ‘Laid Back’, which she co-hosts with another former Aussie Opal and WNBA champion (and unofficial Siren shirt ambassador!) Lauren Jackson. Official Siren Collaborator Mary Konstantopoulos speaks with Australian boxer Skye Nicolson as she prepares to compete in Tokyo, and contributor Linda Pearce shares what makes Ash Barty so tough to beat on clay.

Kate O’Halloran will be appearing in this excellent event from the Wheeler Centre as part of their Broadly Speaking series which will unpack questions like ‘What would it mean to approach sporting stories through a truly intersectional and inclusive feminist lens?’ Get your tickets now!

And Kasey Symons will be speaking at the Hawthorn Library as part of their ‘What If?’ series asking ‘What If? When all sports stopped, men's sport still dominated the media?’ Tickets are free but you have to book!

Kasey also co-published a research paper for European Sport Management Quarterly based on the women in sport coverage numbers Siren collected over a three-month period last year:

And don’t forget to check out Gemma Bastiani’s AFLW season review before the Trade & Sign Period kicks off on the 31st of May. Part One and Part Two are now available.

Podcast: WNBA star and Australian Opal Tully Bevilaqua

By Kasey Symons

In this instalment of the Siren podcast, Kasey Symons speaks to WNBA star and Australian Opal Tully Bevilaqua about her new project with Lauren Jackson.

Listen or Read Now

Slice, slide and serve: what makes Ash Barty so good on clay

By Linda Pearce

As Roland Garros approaches, Linda Pearce looks at Ash Barty on clay and what about her game makes the surface one of the Australian’s best.

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A long wait but Skye Nicolson is ready

By Mary Konstantopoulos

Boxer Skye Nicolson qualified for the Tokyo Olympics in 2020. Official Siren Collaborator Mary Konstantopoulos spoke to her about the very long wait to compete.

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There’s still plenty of questions on concussion in women’s football and how the W-League will approach the health and wellbeing of players, Samantha Lewis writes. 

There’s a new episode of Far Post to wrap your ears around. 

Brittney Kleyn reports on the women running women-only workshops for bmx riders.

“Australian Sarah Kemp fell just short of her first-ever win on the LPGA Tour but continued her resurgence…”

Mary Konstantopoulos spoke with Maddie Studdon about juggling work and sport, her resurgence on field and her hopes to get back to Origin footy.

Julia Montesano spoke with Tiana Mangakahia about the challenges she faced to get back on the court.

Kensington Junior Netball Club is looking for a home. Their plight reveals some of the gaps in resources for girls and women in sport. 

Speaking of gaps, the Victorian Government will help fund a statue of a netballer in Melbourne. The news comes after a petition to recognise and honour our netball heroines from Netball Vic was launched on International Women’s Day. Huge congratulations to the team at Netball Vic for the hard work they’ve put in to make this happen. 

In more netball news, catch up on all the highlights from round four of Suncorp Super Netball at Netball Scoop and check out the game changers from the round. And there’s a new episode of This Netty Life for your listening pleasure. 

Snow Australia launched Women of Winter last week. You can catch up on their leadership webinar and hear from the likes of Kerri Pottharst hosting Alisa Camplin.

Dr. Madeleine Pape: How a career-ending injury led to a personal pilgrimage and a new voice for gender eligibility in sport

Did someone say test cricket? 

This news was incredibly exciting to see!

You LOVE to see it! 

Runner Up

When you spot your bestie!

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