When it comes to successful Australian sportswomen it’s hard to top Lauren Jackson. Thanks for the endorsement on the front cover. What joy!
Sport, politics, feminism, the arts, fashion, food – I’m your woman.
I MC all kinds of events and I’m available for TV, radio, voiceovers and media training.
My second book, Breaking The Mould: Taking a Hammer to Sexism in Sport has just been released.
And my documentary about the rise of women in football, League of Her Own, screened on the Seven Network nationally on the opening night of the AFL Women’s competition. If you missed it you can find it on PLUS7 Catch Up TV.
My columns appear in The New Daily.
Hope to see you soon.
For more information contact:
Phone: 0438 090 025
Two brilliant women you want in your corner.
Thank you Clare Wright and Kate Jenkins for launching my beautiful blue book.
After 20 years of sports journalism it feels great to be working on projects that reflect who I am.
When people start talking about destiny my natural reaction is to roll my eyeballs, stifle a yawn and start formulating an exit plan – discussions on the healing powers of crystal have the same effect.
So it’s strange that this season I put aside all my natural instincts and genuinely started to believe in destiny.
This seemed impossible in July.
The death of Phil Walsh changed everything. It put football in its place and reminded us of far more important things.
This family tragedy was felt around the nation.
In Adelaide it hit particularly hard.
Back to football, no one knew how it would affect the players. And no one expected them to play finals.
They rightly won accolades, and respect, for turning up and playing just eight days after Walsh’s death.
It all seemed so improbable walking into the MCG, just two months later, emboldened by a sense of destiny – walking tall, glowing with pride and imbued with quiet confidence.
The pulsating win over the Bulldogs that night fuelled the sense of destiny about Adelaide’s season.
It was a modern day classic. I smiled, danced and laughed my way through the week.
I waxed lyrical about the importance of a small, predatory and dangerous forward to my two-and-a-half-year old son.
The feeling of something special brewing was contagious.
As fans we sign up for the ride. We start the season fully aware of the exhausting rollercoaster that awaits us.
We know we will win some matches we should have lost – we know we will lose some matches we should have won – we will shout ourselves hoarse celebrating and berate holding the ball decisions (and non-decisions).
We will gloat and some weeks we will be very quiet.
This kind of devotion is intense – but when you add a sense of destiny everything is amplified.
The emotional volume dial gets turned to 11.
It was clear by quarter-time against Hawthorn that Adelaide’s heart-rending season was over.
Resigned to this fact I drew in every last breath of 2015: Hawthorn’s immense pressure, the inability of the Crows to get their hands on the ball and Dangerfield’s miraculous snap from the boundary line.
As painful as it was, I had to see it through, this year more than any other.
Hashtags can be trite and meaningless but “we fly as one” summed it up beautifully – never before had I felt so connected to my tribe.
Crows coach Scott Camporeale was right. It could have gone either way after the heavy loss to West Coast in round 15.
Somehow the Crows mustered the strength to win six of their last nine home and away games to book a finals berth.
Perhaps we started to believe it was destiny because it helped in some way to comprehend the loss of Walsh.
Believing in destiny was our way of healing while honouring the man who started it all.
Only now that it’s over can we exhale and appreciate the immensity of what the Adelaide Football Club achieved this season.
And only now can the players grieve normally away from the bubble of football.
At the supporters’ after party on Friday night the band played April Sun in Cuba to lift the mood.
We all respond differently in situations like this.
Never one to miss an opportunity, I sought comfort in the warm arms of Tony Modra.
There was a sense of disappointment in the room. Of course there was. The Crows had just lost a semi-final and it was highly likely Dangerfield’s last game in our colours.
All talk of destiny had ceased. It stopped after the first quarter – but it had been replaced by something stronger and more real.
Looking back I’m glad I rode the destiny bandwagon, riding up front, clinging onto the reins, full gallop, fire in my eyes and in my belly – for a few wild weeks it made us feel so much better about life.
It swelled our hearts and brought us closer. It made us feel invincible.
Destiny may allow us to dream but it’s the players, through their strength, courage and resilience, who determine what is possible.
Through the influence and reach of sport, Australia is having an important national conversation about racism.
Racism is one evil we live with.
Family violence is another.
The statistics are shocking.
One woman is killed by a current or former partner almost every week in Australia. Some research suggests this rate is higher.
One in three has experienced physical violence since the age of 15.
One in five has experienced sexual violence.
One in four has experienced emotional abuse by a current or former partner.
Women in Australia are three times more likely than men to experience violence at the hands of a partner.
Almost half of the women who experienced violence by an ex-partner said children had seen or heard the violence.
This is the real terror at our doorstep.
There’s no escaping the link between gender inequality and violence against women and children.
The only way to eradicate gender-based violence is to challenge deeply entrenched attitudes, beliefs and distorted values that give rise to violence against women.
Stop the violence before it begins.
Again, sport is well positioned to confront this societal curse as Natasha Stott Despoja, chairwoman of Our Watch explains.
“Evidence shows that people who support gender inequality and sexism are more likely to hold attitudes that condone or excuse violence against women, therefore, it is appropriate that we challenge these attitudes in settings where we can have maximum reach, such as the sporting community.”
Four major sporting codes – the AFL, NRL, Netball Australia and the ARU – have stepped up the fight to prevent violence against women and their children.
Each has received $250,000 as part of the Our Watch Sports Engagement Program to create inclusive, safe and welcoming environments, increase awareness and push the message that violence is never an option or a solution.
There is no excuse.
It’s time for our sporting codes to get serious about challenging stereotypes, calling out sexist jokes and attitudes, victim blaming and violence against women.
Women’s voices must be heard on the field, in the boardroom, the coach’s box, the stands, the medical room, and the media.
Their opinions valued.
Only when this happens can we begin to build respectful relationships and wipe out generations of inequality that underpins violence against women.
Winning, medals, premierships, an unexpected victory over an old foe – sport takes us to a happy place.
It unites us and makes us feel good.
Sport also has the power to make us think about what’s really important.
The uplifting scenes at the SCG on Saturday, Richmond players in indigenous jumpers, the AFL captains’ statement condemning racism, Melbourne players with the colours of the Aboriginal flag taped around their arms, Ross Lyon’s strong words – these are the messages that can help build respect, decency and fairness.
It is here that sport holds sway.
It magnifies our broader culture in a way that very few things can, and in that sense it’s an incredibly powerful tool.
What it throws up can be confronting, but to become a more aware and humane society it’s important that confronting issues be tackled widely and tackled head on.
It’s not up to sport to solve these problems. That’s the responsibility of our political leaders but sadly they’ve dropped the ball.
So use the powers bestowed upon you, sport.
Keep the conversations going.
There’s a lot more work to do.
If you or someone you know is impacted by domestic or family violence or sexual assault, call 1800RESPECT on 1800 737 732 or visit http://www.1800RESPECT.org.au. In an emergency, call 000.
We’re hard-wired not to like each other.
Like Siamese fighting fish.
Some AFL clubs talk about rivalry. Ours is the real thing. Uncontrived. Unabashed. We will meet you in the car park.
It’s genetic. It runs deep in the blood.
I inherited my dislike of all things Port Adelaide from my maternal grandfather and my duty as a Crows fan is to make sure it continues down the line with my son.
And I will.
This is why the coming together of the Adelaide Crows and Port Adelaide over the past two weeks to honour Phil Walsh has been so powerful. So incredibly moving.
And so at odds with the natural order.
I could never have imagined it. Nor could I ever have imagined the circumstances that united us.
And the togetherness has felt right.
Empowering, uplifting and right.
Showdown 39 was always going to be different.
Acrimony was replaced by harmony.
Port invited all Crows supporters to join them on their March from the Mall, a ritual for all Power home games. The two sides ran out together before running through a joint banner.
Both theme songs were played, followed by a special version of Port Adelaide’s anthem Never Tear Us Apart honouring Walsh’s time at both clubs.
Unnatural. But right.
Tragedy has transcended cross-town rivalry – even for the most hardened fan.
As soon as the siren sounded we reverted to type.
Us and them. Effortlessly.
There was no discernible softening of hostilities on the field – the attack on the ball, intensity, tackling and niggle, the ebb and flow of the game, the booing from the crowd – all classically Showdown.
Along with that feeling of unrelenting tension, of another twist coming. Of being unable to relax despite the widening margin.
The players gave their all. They said they would. It was the only way to honour a man they respected and loved.
And boy was it a game he would have loved. The closest one ever.
And when it was all over the Crows’ theme song wasn’t played.
Instead, both teams gathered for the presentation of the Showdown Trophy and Showdown Medal, renamed the Phillip Walsh Medal for this one match.
A minute of robust applause a final mark of respect to Walsh.
Showdown 39 will stand alone in the vibrant history between these two proud South Australian clubs.
There will never be another one like it.
A day when bitter rivalries were put on hold and replaced by something much bigger.
Some things are more important than football – a sentiment captured beautifully by opposing chairmen, Rob Chapman and David Koch, who watched the final minutes of the game, arms locked, tears in their eyes.
So to both clubs, thank you for allowing us to grieve as one.
I hope in some small way it has given comfort to the Walsh family, and eased some of the pain for the players and club people who had a connection to Phil Walsh.
Fans of the Crows and Port will go back to doing what they do so spectacularly well – feeding the antagonism with taunts and insults, some of it light-hearted, some of it venomous.
But pausing the fierce rivalry was the right thing to do.
And it was strangely beautiful while it lasted.
Never in the history of combat sports have women been presented as the main and co-main event.
This is set to change when the Ultimate Fighting Championship juggernaut comes to Melbourne in November.
Ronda Rousey fights Holly Holm and Joanna Jedrzejczyk takes on Valerie Letourneau in the strawweight division.
But make no mistake, the elevation to headline act is the work of one woman: Olympic judo medallist turned mixed martial artist, Rousey.
She is – to use fighting parlance – ‘the baddest woman on the planet’, and I can’t help but be drawn to her.
I like the way she shoots from the hip – words pour out of her mouth in rapid, machine gun fire sentences. She has no filter. And she clearly has no fear – she doesn’t turn meekly to her PR agent, she doesn’t dodge questions, she doesn’t relentlessly tow the corporate line and she doesn’t want to please everybody. All the time.
She is her own woman – flaws and all. And this makes her fascinating.
She is the reason I take an interest in the sport.
Ten years ago if you said there would be a woman in the top five pound-for-pound fighters in the world you would have been laughed out of the room.
She’s the reason women are competing in the UFC. Again, this was unthinkable 10 years ago.
UFC president Dana White went as far as to say it would never happen on his watch.
Rousey is now the face of the UFC.
She signed with the UFC in 2011 and has successfully defended her bantamweight championship six times. She holds the record for the fastest championship stoppage in UFC history – 14 seconds.
She remains unbeaten (with a 12-0 record) – and her past four wins have lasted a combined 130 seconds.
Outside the octagon, Rousey wants to lift women up, not knock them down.
She is vocal about issues close to her heart.
As a younger athlete fighting in strict weight classes she was under constant pressure to make weight. This relentless struggle led to an obsession with body image, which resulted in bulimia.
Her message now is simple and powerful – it’s okay to have a muscular body. It doesn’t make you less of a woman.
Or in her words, “I think it’s femininely badass as f**k”.
She prefers to be photographed before she has cut weight for a fight – it’s a truer reflection of how she looks.
She was one of the few big stars to repeatedly (and loudly) speak out about Floyd Mayweather’s history of domestic violence.
When she won the ESPY Sportsperson of the Year award this year (Mayweather was also in contention), she asked Mayweather how it felt to “be beaten by a woman for once”.
Rousey also isn’t afraid to criticise ‘role models’ like Kim Kardashian who she believes is famous for the wrong reasons and sets a bad example for teenage girls.
All this makes her one of the world’s most compelling athletes.
Her name has entered into popular culture – and her reach ensures her messages are being heard.
Rousey herself is a reluctant role model. She would rather girls be their own super-heroines.
“I don’t want little girls to have the same ambitions as me. But I want them to know that it’s okay to be ambitious. This is my way that I found to try and change the world.”
If a drop of what Rousey says breaks down barriers and changes attitudes then surely that is a good thing?
She may not be everyone’s cup of tea but right now she’s hard to ignore.
I think it’s terrific that she isn’t afraid to pick a fight outside of the ring. As she matures it’ll be interesting to see which path she takes – fame can either eat you up or propel you onto a greater stage.
It might be wishful thinking but I would love her to use her power and influence to address the broader issues of equality, respect and recognition for women in sport. She has shown, when she’s passionate about something, she can make a difference.
Sport needs women to blaze a trail – no matter how “badass” they are.