Saturday, April 20, 2024

“TBH, We Need to Get Behind Women’s Sport PROPERLY” – Brodie Kane on Why We Must Keep Pressure on to Ensure the Rise of Our Female Athletes 

brodie kane

Welcome to TBH – To Be Honest – Capsule’s first-ever regular column with our brand-new columnist and old pal, Brodie Kane! In her second edition, she shares her thoughts on why we need to get behind our female athletes and women’s sport with real action to make sure they can thrive, and why the upcoming Women’s FIFA World Cup, co-hosted in Aotearoa, will be one of the biggest sporting moments in our nation’s history.

(And click here for her first column on being independent and vulnerable at the same time!)

Team, we are about to be a part of something special, and we best brace ourselves for being part of history.

I’m not being dramatic – honestly! – but when I had the opportunity to work at Eden Park to mark 100 days to go until the FIFA Women’s World Cup last week (being hosted here and in Australia from 20 July), I just knew that we’re in for something big – but we need to make sure we turn up and support something SO big and so special for Aotearoa. 

We hosted the Cricket World Cup last year, which was unfortunately hampered by Covid restrictions on crowd numbers, but some exceptional cricket was played even if our White Ferns didn’t quite get the outcome they would’ve liked. I went to the opening game and it was an absolute THRILLER. A three-run victory to the West Indies against the home side had us all on the verge of a heart attack. But again, my goodness it was good cricket.

Then, we had the Rugby World Cup. Well, we all know how that went. I worked as the hype reporter (my choice of name obvs) for Three/Spark Sport across the whole tournament and it’s without question a career highlight – but also a life highlight. 

God, just thinking about it now – those feelings in that semi-final where I couldn’t even watch that kick; that ridiculous emotional rollercoaster in the final against England and legitimately getting light-headed once the final whistle had blown because I’d jumped up and down with such gusto the head spins were real. I mean, that was one of the greatest sporting moments we’ve seen in this country. And my goodness, it was good rugby.

When I grew up as a kid – no doubt like many of you – what women’s sport could you watch on the telly? What women’s sport could you go watch at your local stadium? What female sporting heroes did you see on the sports news every night?

Cue tumbleweeds. 

We grew up having bugger-all access to women’s sport. So we watched the men. We got used to watching men’s sport. And hey, men’s sport is great, I bloody love it. But it’s been a long time coming and it’s about bloody time women’s sport got a seat at the table. Women still receive less coverage and less funding, but they’re banging their knives and forks on the table and they’re HUNGRY. We see it, and we are here for it. 

The other thing to think about, which I think possibly we may have all been guilty of, is that we tend to compare the men’s game and the women’s game. Breaking news: they’re not the same game. Sure, they have the same rules and whatnot, but the men don’t play like women and the women don’t play like men. The women are NOT trying to play like the men. And my goodness, how good do the women play? Well, now that we get to see it, of course. 

I’m so pleased we are witnessing, and being part of the rise, of women’s sport. But we MUST keep the foot on the throat. We must turn up. We must buy tickets. We must keep the pressure on sponsors, the media and the sporting organisations that women’s sport needs and deserves a seat at that table. And I find it so exciting that we can all be involved in that.

What we saw at the Rugby World Cup should serve as a blueprint forever more – there shouldn’t be any more excuses about ratings and bums on seats being the reason women don’t get the prime-time slots or sponsorship or funding, or anything less than their male counterparts. Because you give them the exposure, the opportunities, the seat at the table and look what happens. 

So, back to the FIFA World Cup. This will be like nothing we’ve ever seen before. It will be the biggest sporting event held in New Zealand. I love me a good stat and a fun fact, so get your eyes around these ones. The 2019 tournament drew a global audience of 1.12 billion people. 1.12 BILLION PEOPLE!!!

Twenty nine matches will be played across four cities in New Zealand. The opening match at Eden Park between the Football Ferns and Norway has already sold 20,000 tickets.

150,000 tickets have already been sold for the remaining games. The reigning world champions and top-ranked USA will play their pool matches right here in Aotearoa. This team successfully fought for equal pay with its male counterparts, and is likely to see thousands of its fans descend on the tournament.

I spoke to so many people during the Rugby World Cup who said “I don’t even watch rugby” or, “I haven’t watched rugby in years”, but they were there. They turned up. Because it was special, and in a sense it was a celebration beyond the 80 minutes on the paddock, beyond the rugby itself. And the women did that. 

So, even if you don’t watch football or you know nothing about the sport, or you’re not really interested in sport in general, I PROMISE you, this will be special. This will go beyond football itself. And the women will do that.

Of course they will. 

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