NETBALL Australia's chief is confident the nation's highest participation sport for women will remain the sport of choice for females amid a rapidly changing landscape - it is, she says, about continually pushing boundaries.
This also needs to be balanced with valuing and redefining women in all sports.
Netball's elite domestic league launches its third season of a revamped Super Netball competition on Tuesday. NA chief executive Marne Fechner flagged with News Limited she was not alarmed by the growing competition and interest in AFLW because it was good for women to have options.
Fechner might not be alarmed but undoubtedly NA must be kept on its toes.
Sporting options are breaking through boundaries.
AFLW has been a key driver in forcing other sporting bodies - including popular women's games like netball - to really re-think what they are putting out on the field.
Focusing on improvements in access and facilities for women at grassroots and elite levels is important and there is plenty of positive work going on in this space about our region.
At the same time, this evolution is about the changing nature of women in sport.
Ballarat Olympian and Commonwealth Games javelin gold medallist Kathryn Mitchell says such change is a progression as females were increasingly becoming involved in what has traditionally been male-dominated arenas.
Mitchell, speaking at a south-west forum for promoting women's sport, said game-changers like AFLW were also playing a lead role in changing perception on what it means to be a female who plays sport.
"Looking at it from an image perspective with social media, I think there is a lot of pressure on young girls to still conform or to be a certain image or sport is maybe manly...," Mitchell told The Standard.
"It wasn't seen as cool but I hoped to be a sportswoman at the top of her game and comfortable with who I am and what I look like and I'm comfortable with how I need to look to do the sport that I do well."
This Girl Can's Victorian campaign, which has a strong foothold in Ballarat, focuses on getting females of all ages and abilities feeling confident enough to get red-faced and jiggly without fear of judgement. Research also shows female participation in sports and recreation significantly drops off in teenage years.
Western Bulldogs AFLW coach Paul Groves, also at the south-west forum, said females need to feel that value to perform and be more involved.
Groves spoke of his young daughter asking Bulldog Tom Boyd where all the women's stars were at a training session. He said the value his daughter placed on AFLW stars was an indicator for what can be possible in female sport development.
Groves said grassroots clubs had a responsibility in fostering and valuing such female passion with comfortable and supportive environments.
Club leaders like Lake Wendouree's Kara Hart are role models in setting the tone. Hart, a decorated Lakers' netball premiership player, chalked up her 300th senior game on court in round one. The 34-year-old has also seized an opportunity to play a season of open women's football for the club.
Greater sporting options for women can also be reflective of improve promotion of female athleticism, power and confidence.
Increasing professionalism in netball - which boasts the highest paid female athletes in Australian team sport - was a huge step in the formation of Super Netball competition.
Now Netball Australia, in a world cup year, has a great opportunity to take the game and what it can offer to the next level.
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