‘Amazonian Rules’ – a history of women playing Aussie Rules

Last month we saw the very first live broadcast of a women’s AFL game. This generated a great deal of interest which, apart from a few notable exceptions (such as the contribution from Graham Cornes) has been generally positive.

But how long have women been playing AFL? And what is the history of the game? Whilst female participation in footy has been growing steadily, there has actually been interest for some time – in fact, the game in August this year could represent a hundred years of women playing AFL. Continue reading

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Super Falcons and Women’s Football in Nigeria

The Nigerian Super Falcons have had a mixed Women’s World Cup so far. They came into the tournament after dominating the African Women’s Championship, winning every match that they played. The Women’s World Cup has been a different story as they are as yet unable to secure a win. Although their first game against Sweden was a thriller, it ended in a 3-3 tie. In their second game, the Super Falcons could not hold off a buoyant Australian outfit, going down to the Matildas 2-0.

The Super Falcons are a strong team, and their final group match against the USA on Wednesday will be a huge game. According to Nigerian Coach Edwin Okon, “we must get back to the form we had against Sweden.” If they do, they are in with a chance against the formidable USA.

Women’s football in Nigeria has had a chequered history. Like in the rest of the world, including Australia, the role of women in sport generally and football more specifically has been debated, and at times the appropriateness of football for women players soundly rejected. Continue reading

Smashing it – women’s tennis in the 1960s

The remaining Australian players, both men and women, were bundled out of the 2015 French Open in the third round last week. Stosur started well against Sharapova but could not take a set, and Kyrgios and Kokkinakis lost to champions Murray and Djokovic respectively.

It has been some time since Australian finals success at Roland Garros and the most recent have all been in doubles (the Woodies taking out the men’s doubles in 2000 and Alicia Molik teaming up with Italian Mara Santagelo in 2007 in the women’s). However, there was a period in the 1960s and 70s when the Australians experienced a golden age at the tournament. Continue reading

Netball in Australia – a brief history

When I was about eleven years old, I was very excited to start playing “competitive” basketball in a local competition after school. When I relayed this to my grandmother, I was surprised but pleased to hear that she too had played basketball in her youth. However, when we stepped outside to share a game, it quickly became clear that we were talking about different sports. When she saw the backboard behind the ring, and me dribbling the ball, she was a bit confused. When I tried to steal the ball from her, things became obvious. It turned out that my grandmother’s so-called basketball was, in reality, netball.

The history behind the fact that, in Australia, netball was called “women’s basketball” up until the 1970s, begins in the United States back in the late nineteenth century. Continue reading

Frocks, skirts and ‘rational’ pants – the evolution of cricket uniforms

There is a story in cricket folklore that suggests overarm bowling was invented by a British woman. Christina Willes, so the story goes, played backyard cricket with her brother, John, but got fed up with the way in which her bulky skirts caused her trouble when bowling underarm. Instead, she bowled roundarm to reduce the interference and, lo and behold, overarm bowling was born. Whilst I would love for this story to be true, unfortunately I can find no real evidence to support it. However, it is a very good illustration of how expectation around women’s dress has affected the ways in which we play sports. Using cricket as the example, we will see that women have been forced to wear particularly ‘feminine’ uniforms until very recently. Continue reading

The Girl Bradman – Betty Wilson inducted into the ICC Hall of Fame

Betty Wilson was inducted into the ICC Cricket Hall of Fame last month. Whilst she was well known across Australia as the ‘girl Bradman’ during the 1940s and 1950s, you may never have heard of her. Even when I was a youngster playing in what was then the Under 19 Betty Wilson Shield, I have to admit to not knowing anything of the achievements of the eponymous cricketer herself. It is shameful to confess now, because her story is truly remarkable.

Continue reading

Not cracking under the strain – women’s football in Australia

The Matildas have taken out fifth place in the 2015 Cyprus Cup after a comprehensive 6-2 victory over the Czech Republic. The tournament has been an excellent warm up for the women’s World Cup which will be held in Canada later this year.

Whilst the Matildas are making great strides internationally, and football is becoming increasingly popular for women at home, it has been a long journey to get to this point. The history of women’s football in Australia is one of difficulty, and determination. Continue reading