Layne Beachley, widely regarded as the most successful female surfer in history, and Director of Aim For The Stars Foundation, took the time to have a chat with us recently about how she feels are some of the most pressing issues for women in sport.
What is the #1 change you would like to see for women in sport in the next 10 years?
Layne: It has always been my ultimate goal for women’s sport to receive equality – Equality of support, recognition, earning potential and opportunity, but I feel we are well over 10 years away from achieving that in most sports.
We must recognise that men have been playing sport a lot longer than we have, but there is no reason of women to play small and just accept what we have been “graciously” given.
Within the next 10 years I want to see equal recognition and media coverage for all women that are succeeding in sport, regardless of the chosen profession.
Our soccer players, rugby players, NRL players and cricketers are all succeeding.
Until the media outlets guarantee a certain level of coverage, no-one will ever know how incredibly talented, committed and successful these ladies are.
This requires the 3 P’s- Patience, Passion and Perseverance.
What is the #1 thing that we can do to increase female participation in sport?
Layne: Women who have succeeded previously must continue to encourage, nurture and inspire future generations to participate through mentoring, guidance and empathy.
Take the time to understand how different the playing field is today compared to “our day”, but also accept a level of responsibility for inspiring future generations of athletes to follow in your footsteps.
The sign of a great teacher is when their student succeeds them.
Athletes today also need to be made aware of the role they play in the continuation of the growth and development of their sport, while competing and well into retirement.
What is the biggest change you’d like to see in women’s representation on sports boards?
Layne: Representation! I currently sit on three sporting body boards and there is minimal female representation.
It’s more about merit than fulfilling a quota, as all boards must add value to the functionality of an organisation.
Women need to trust in their ability to add value, let people know that they are interested in doing so and be willing to step up, speak up and never give up.