MICHELLE Payne’s latest move is about more than “myth-busting” to show women what can be possible.
Payne is breaking ceilings to show everybody what women can achieve in sport – on and off the track.
“Women in Racing”, her female-only syndicates, venture has captured national headlines. Teaming with Ballan-based Australian Thoroughbred Bloodstock, Payne said the association should deliver on themes about women and racing close to her heart.
Not just content to take an historic Melbourne Cup win in her stride, Payne is not just out to break glass ceilings but really smash them.
And she is proud to do so, right here in Ballarat from her Nottingham Farm.
Payne continues to build on what has been a whirlwind 14 months, since she became the first female jockey to ride a Melbourne Cup winner. Now she plans to train and ride a Cup winner.
This is bigger than racing. Payne’s “get stuffed” attitude to doubters won hearts the world over in her defiance to a male-dominated industry and put her in a strong position as a female role model.
Then Payne keeps setting bigger goals. It sets an impressive precedent in a really crucial time for women’s sport, especially at the highest levels.
If you thought the playing arena for elite women’s sport was already booming, just wait for what 2017 could unfold.
In a month’s time the inaugural AFL-sanctioned women’s league starts action.
There are strong expectations, particularly after the final popular and incredibly skillful AFL exhibition match between Western Bulldogs and Melbourne hit free-to-air television last year. That was a taste of what AFLW should be.
The talent pool has been stretched across eight teams but the high-profile recruiting to lure big names in basketball and athletics to test their football game.
Like racing, Australian Rules has too long been a male-dominated sport. When it came to women, playing the game was spoken about in a negative context.Creating opportunity has proven there is hungry demand for young girls and women vying to pull on boots in serious competition. To have a kick not just for giggles.
Those at the top, in AFLW, still have plenty to prove but the league’s big launch also challenges other women’s games to think smarter to compete.
This next year will bring a return to an Australian-only national netball league, adding heavyweight sporting clubs like Collingwood to the mix.
Netball is out to reaffirm its mantle as the nation’s number one female participation sport in a big way with bigger salaries for players at the top. It sets a standard for other women’s codes clamouring for increased air-space, press space and profiles.
Payne, in a media briefing on Wednesday, said there were a whole range of reasons women did not get involved in syndicates. Women in Racing wants to bust some of the myths that discourage women from participating.
Women’s sport is rapidly evolving. It is an exciting time to see which barriers will be cleared, which boundaries are pushed in the new year.
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