23 January, 2020

Women in sport share stories of adversity, diversity & success

Women in sport share stories of adversity, diversity & success

The Victorian Chapter of Women in drinks hosted its fourth event in Melbourne last week.

The breakfast event focussed on women in sport, with a panel discussion featuring AFLW player Meg Downie, Sports Editor of The Age Chloe Saltau and former Australian Cricket Captain Jodie Fields. 

The formidable panel shared their stories of adversity, success and juggling the balance between work and life.

Meg, who played for Melbourne in the inaugural AFLW season and represented Victoria in the recent State of Origin match, shared her experience of growing up in country Victoria and being the only girl playing football in boys teams.

"People were disgruntled at having a girl in the team. That's when I realised gender equality was an issue in sport. My parents encouraged me to play the sport that I loved, but I was always ‘the girl’," said Meg.

She was able to put those attitudes aside and focus on her footy, but suffered a leg injury that almost ended her sporting career. The injury made Meg more determined to recover, and with persistence and focus Meg achieved her dream of being drafted to an AFLW club. When asked about managing her busy schedule, Meg’s advice was to prioritise and get used to saying no and making sacrifices in order to achieve your goals.

Reflecting on her career to date, Chloe said the most rewarding time was the 2005 Ashes Series in England, where she spent 105 days on the road. When asked about the challenges of being a female Sports Editor, Chloe said it was important to have the confidence to let her work do the talking, “be persistent, back yourself, work hard and stay objective and fair”.

It was former Australian Cricket Captain, Jodie Fields, who had the audience grimacing as she described the horrific injury she suffered when she tore her hamstring off the bone while batting for Queensland. She was four months into her rehabilitation when she slipped on wet concrete and re-injured the same hamstring , taking her back to square one. Jodie was 24 at the time and was told she may never play cricket for Australia again.

“It’s moments like that, you find out who you are, and I knew I wasn’t going to give up on my dream,” said Jodie.

After asking the Australian selectors to back her in, Jodie returned to the field to lead Australia to the 2012 T20 World Cup and the 2013 ODI Women’s World Cup in the space of six months.

Jodie has since hung up her bat and wicket-keeping gloves, but spoke proudly of her work with the Australian Cricketers Association where she was instrumental in the recent pay deal that increased the the total salary pool for female players from $7.5m to $52m over five years. Jodie talked about how the pay deal, which took 10 months to negotiate, would help support female cricketers to continue playing the sport they love, but also provide financial security after sport.

“Transitioning to life after sport is hard because you have to find your identity all over again,” said Jodie.

CEO of the drinks association Georgia Lennon (above), was in Melbourne to open the event.

"This is my first Women in drinks event as CEO of the drinks association and it was incredibly inspiring," she said. "It was great to meet with women working in the drinks industry in Victoria and wonderful to hear perspectives on diversity and inclusion from Meg, Chloe and Jodie - their resilience and perseverance are powerful examples of how much we can achieve when we have passion for what we do."

Pictured (main): Women in drinks councillor Angela Burgum with AFLW player Meg Downie, Sports Editor of The Age Chloe Saltau and former Australian Cricket Captain Jodie Fields.