Women Who Werk

Feminist: noun.

‘’The doctrine of advocating social, political and all other rights of women equal to those of men.’’

I started playing on a ‘mixed football team’ at the age of 5. I was the only girl on the whole team. For 5 Years straight.

I was an athletic girl. Fast. Fearless. Not to toot my own horn, an asset to the team.

But the boys didn’t pass the ball to me often, simply because I was a girl.

This is where it stated.

Meaningless inequality because of my gender.

This progressed to mixed cross country races later in school, where I was deemed a ‘cheater’ because I simply crossed the finish line before all of the boys.

Later in high school, when you’d expect everyone to be a little wiser. A little more mature.

I fortunately took my gift of athleticism and worked hard. Was a national level athlete at this point. And with achievement comes some limelight (to my dismay).

The lime light I received to celebrate my achievements was far too emasculating to some close- minded individuals.

.

The boys ALWAYS to run before the girls. Track and field. Cross county. Even swimming.

As their participation was reduced to a walk. And I was fortunately the first of the girls races, to catch the boys who started before us.

A group of ‘footy boys’ from my grade decided to make a human wall, during this race. So when I approached them I simply

Could not get past, unless I wanted to run in the gutter full of water around them.

When approaching I politely asked them to move. But no cigar.

I had to physically push past these larger boys, injuring myself in the process & affecting my mental state half way through my 4km race – in order for my race not to be completely obstructed and my race performance to be dismantled.

This didn’t end there, sadly. But I’m not one to sit back and let someone, let alone a whole group make me feel inferior when I haven’t done anything wrong.

I continued to be bullied by boys.

Because I was simply taller than them. Because of my athleticism.

Because I was loud, enthusiastic, didn’t follow the crowd. (and was little bit crazy!)

Because of my diligence to school work.

Because I had dreams.

Because I did not take them stealing my lunch box, as a sign of ‘flirting.’ I did not accept the teacher’s view that ‘they only

Annoy you and call you names because they like you!’

No, that was not, nor will ever be acceptable. That is an excuse for their behaviour. Which was deemed to be ‘okay’ and had no punishment for making me feel inferior or harassed.

It’s not ‘’boys will be boys, Lani.’ This behaviour simply not okay. And allows those boys to think they can treat women like that, later in life.

I have been 6’1’’ since I was about 16.

But I take the gift of height as a privilege.

And feel sad for those boys. that chose to be intimidate by something I simply can’t help. Genetics.

Or something that doesn’t in any way concern them like the way I live my life, or my Athletic achievements. (Until the day that boys start competing against girls).

This misogynistic philosophy It may stem back to stories like mine.

The things little boys, are lead to believe while they’re growing up, deciding what kind of person they’re going to be…is okay.

Let’s make sure it ends here.

Childhood.

Real men teach their children not to discriminate based on gender or even race for that matter. Based on appearance, ability or behaviour.

My philosophy is a person should only be judged, simply how they move through the world and how they treat others.

These experiences, although not completely terrible. Weren’t nice.

But they made me the person and the athlete I am today.

It taught me not to be complacent with someone’s preconvinced perception of you, your ability or what kind of person you are for that matter; on first glance.

And it additionally assisted with encouraging a strong intrinsic mental drive from a young age. Which eventually assisted with being able to win a gold (X 2) medal for my country.

I describe myself as a Feminist for this reason.

Not because I believe in a notion of men-hating, oppressed, hard-down-by righteous females who don’t like sticking to rules; like so many people are wrongly educated to think being a Feminist entails.

I am a Feminist because I am a fighter.

A fighter for simple equality – equal opportunity, rights, wages, treatment, attitudes and parody amongst genders.

Equality in the mentality that women are equal to men. In their value, their place in the world, the workplace, politics, rights in history and in future history.

In that women are capable, forceful, fierce human beings.

And I will not let anyone underestimate me because of my gender.

This open style of Feministic mindset is important to explore, in a world where in some cultures, it’s traditional to ask your husband for permission to simply purchase yourself a gym membership. Where men are culturally expected to dictate their wive’s every decision.

Where women aren’t allowed to drive an automobile, let alone be independent in their own decision making.

I encourage you to teach your Son’s when they begin football training, or are on a mixed-gender class.

Your husbands in a work environment where their superior may be a female.

Your male mates, who feel intimidated by a powerful woman.

Encourage equal thinking. Eliminate this superiority complex based on someone’s thought process, hundreds of years ago.

Please. Make up your own damn mind!

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An Athlete State of Mind.

Athlete. Sportsperson. Active minded individual.

Elite. Grass roots. Beginner. It all counts. They are the special breads of humans, in my opinion. How do I know this? Because fortunately been surrounded by them for twenty years of my life. And have earned the honour of representing my country, in turn calling myself one of the above.

I am grateful sport chose me early on. I experienced the joy of playing multiple disciplines, for many years, multiple teams. Teaching me multiple life lessons, early on. For my parents, who drive me to countless practices, countless venues country-wide and multiple amounts of money, on supporting all of this. Supporting My Dream.

I’ve experienced some incredible, unforgettable highs From This sport. From the track. Moments you’d always dreamt of. Movie-moments.

Where it’s not necessarily the medal around your neck. But it’s the atmosphere. Its the feeling of pushing your body, to move the fastest it’s ever been, with every contraction. The ‘YES.’ Moments. Where every training session is being put to use, just to run that self satisfying 0.04 seconds faster your body has moved, than ever before. It’s the crowd’s roar.

Its the lights. It’s the architecture of the stadium. It’s the people volunteering their time to put on a race for you. The way a competitor quickly becomes a mate once the race is done. In the camaraderie of the hand- shake, post race. Picking one another rod the track with a pat on the back. Where you’re out of breath but you always, without fail, acknowledge your opponents that competed against you.

You thank the officials recording the event. And you quietly thank God. It’s the people you encounter, that you’ve never met, but they quietly acknowledge you. Your performance out there, with a simple nod or passing smile.

It’s the honour of the colours you’re wearing. Whether it be Club, state or national. It’s patriotism. Making someone out there proud. Making you proud.

It’s that feeling. I can’t put a finger on it…It’s the moments when you proved to yourself you could and you never stopped. Overcoming mental, physical and emotional hurdles in the process. The lost-for-words moments, when it all went your way. You simply can’t describe it. But you smile. Inside out. Grateful for the journey. Grateful for the people around you. The feeling of adrenaline, mixed with pure joy, mixed triumph and a whole lot of serotonin. The feeling that helped you fall in love with the sport. Just pure happy. The I’m ‘how bloody good is running,’ feeling.

I’ve also experienced the Lows. The moments when you didn’t think you could make it to the line. The moments when your body gave up on itself, before you got to be line. The moments of self doubt in pre-race nerves. The moment of pain, more than any physical injury pain. But pain in being told you’re not allowed to compete, due to injury. When you’d worked so hard to prove to yourself you could; your body simply said ‘no.’

The sacrifices. The people that just don’t get it and blame you, because they don’t understand your passion. They don’t understand your why Your way of life. That this isn’t a choice anymore – it’s a compulsion. The moments of ‘is it all really worth it?…’

But they’re all part of it. Positive and negative. The good comes with the bad. It allows you to work harder, for that brief little high. And it allows you to well and truly earn it!

The bouncing back part. The part that teaches resilience that cannot be taught in an office. Can only be taught on that ‘Oval Office,’ the track. The field. The pitch. The court.

I owe a lot to Sport. It has shaped the person who I am today. Introduced me to a whole new world, to some incredible people who have become family. Kept my physical body just as healthy as my emotional and physical body. It’s been an outlet that saved me from myself, in dark times. It’s given me goals, dreams behind my wildest imagination. And some of the happiest days of my memories.

There’s nothing like proving to yourself, that you are good enough. Exceed your own expectations, but adhering to the journey that you ultimately planned for yourself, for daring to dream in the first place.

I’ve been fortunate to have traveled to some incredible places, met some beautiful faces. And learned wherever there’s a track – there’s home, to me.

From The harsh winters of USA, Canada and England. To the overbearing humidity of training in Cambodia, Thailand, Fiji, The Cook Islands and behind; I’ve found my peace on that track. I it’s a place of ‘me’ time, my outlet. And a place I decide my future.

Most recently I was training in the United Kingdom for a period of about four weeks. It was winter there, when I didn’t have my coach. I didn’t have my squad bantering with me. Just myself, 3 degree icy winds, about seven layers of clothing, and an orange tartan stadium, layed before me. The same surface, as back home. But with a whole new set of obstacles and metaphorical hurdles.

Lungs tight, breathing painful. Hands frozen without gloves. Questioning one’s own sanity, rep after rep. And legs on fire! But this was part of it all. No excuses. I choose this, willingly. And continue to, no mater the country, no matter the conditions.

I decided a long time ago, my destiny. That I would prove to myself that I want to take myself to as far as I can physically go with this sport. I want to be an Olympian.

And it’s been eighteen bloody years, but I certainly haven’t given up yet! As a seven year old, watching our local legend. The phenomenal Cathy Freeman compete for our country. She not only competed, but she won the 400m, at the Sydney 2000 Olympic Games. Witnessing that moment, is where it all started. The Passion, if you will.

I said to my little self, watching in awe. Eyes glued to that television screen. Her body in moving so swiftly. Her pain in her face, in digging deeper than ever before. Her humility in her triumph and success. I wanted that. I said there and then, I am going to do that with my life one day. And I will.

And of course it hasn’t been smooth sailing. I’ve had multiple injury, illness and misfortune. They’ve been multiple coaches, politics, those ups and downs. But it’s all been worth it. It’s part of the Journey To The Dream, as I’ve always called it.

I certainly haven’t been able to keep going this far, alone. I’ve had the most phenomenal team behind me. My family, supporting each and every one of my crazy dreams. In driving me and flying me around the country and in turn the world – to support my dreams. Financially supporting me, emotionally supporting me. And physically being there to support me, whenever they can. And never saying, never to my next step.

My partner, in all his support. His unconditional support, in every definition. Not only being there, cheering louder than any voice in the stadium and being proud of it. Mentally challenging me to push myself, past all my fears. Beyond my dreams. And never doubting me, my decisions or my big dreams. Not even for a second.

My friends in understanding why I have to miss that party, again. Can’t see them on competition weekends, or miss birthdays and anniversaries due to training.

And my coaches. These special people that see more potential in me than I see in myself and continue to push me, beyond my limitations. And all the glorious, countless, beautiful people. The behind the scenes people. The acquaintances, the family friends. But also the therapists, the doctors, the supporters and people that have invested in me, that believe in This Journey.

The track continues to, and will always be my light. I haven’t given up on that goal, since. Although it may have changed slightly. I am more determined. More willing. More hungry for my goal.

Because I chose to go to that level. The ‘one percenters,’ the extras. The above and beyond. Because that’s what all adds up. It’s going to that that all and much much more! The sessions that don’t make sense, everything hurts, your mind is fighting your body – but you do it anyway, because it brings you one step closer. One step ahead of the game.

I have a goal, not dream. Because a goal without a vision is a dream.

Never give in to expeditions set by someone else for your future. You are your own guiding light.

Chose to go to your level for your goal. And keep going; For your seven year old self.

Women in a Wruck

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2017 saw the launch of the inaugural AON Rugby 7’s Women’s National University series. A fantastic development for Australian women in rugby, having the opportunity to travel inter-state and compete in a four-tournament series, jam-packed of talent development and to much excitement Olympic Gold medallists! 
The ARU agreed to include at least two Australian Sevens players in each of the nine university teams, across the country.

Pictured in the tweet from Aussie 7s, representing the Macquaire University Sydney Rays, is in fact myself! As a rookie to Rugby and Rugby 7s, only playing for one season. I took a dive in the deep end, learning to play something totally different (and totally fun!) after competing in Track and Field for the majority of my life and fortunately the opportunity of representing my country a few times over. This series was such a fantastic way to immerse myself in Rugby Union, as I was given the valuable opportunity to learn and develop as a player.

The Sydney Rays turned their program into a professional, contract-based team. Indulging in all the professional aspects of a National union team. We were very spoilt with experienced 7s coach Nathan McMmahon taking lead, assistant coach Australian Rugby 7s Olympian James Stannard and Strength and Conditioning king Tim Rowland. 

Tim provided a state of the art strength program for the Rookies, like myself who were new to Union. He gave us the skill development to mould into confident rugby women, not to be reckoned with on the field. Additionally we had a gruelling, but necessary two-day training camp, at the Australian Rugby 7S HQ, Sydney Academy of Sport Narrabean; prior to the first round for the AON series.

We were also given team building days, including goal-setting and personal development, game day and training video analysis tools, access to recovery systems post-game including Cryotherapy, plunge pools and pool recovery sessions. Experienced on-site physiotherapists were implemented for training and game day needs. We were even given a boots sponsor from ”X-Blades,” which are the most comfortable, durable footy boots I’ve ever owned! And to top it off, an insightful team manager, keeping us all in the loop.

The series kicked off in icy Tasmania on 25-26th August, our Rays women taking out the silver medal for the tournament. The next series was on home turf 8-9th September, at Macquaire University Sport Fields. Unfortunately we missed out on a medal-match and finished fourth. The final two tournaments were in maroon territory playing at University of Queensland 15th-16th September and Bond University HQ 29th-30th. With two silver medals to add to the collection, it was enough for the Macqauire Rays to finish bronze on the overall medal tally, behind the champions University of Queensland and silver medallists Bond University.

In my eighteen years, of elite track and field, this program was something Athletics can take a leaf from. I felt supported, welcomed and indulged in a wealth of knowledge on how to improve my rugby performance, quickly and efficiently. It was also incredibly insightful and motivating to have Olympian Chloe Dalton and Australian representative Dominique De Toit, playing alongside our Rays.

I was lucky enough to feature in the ”women-doing-wonderful-things-in-sport” podcast by Mary Konstantopoulos ”Ladies Who League,” Prior to the AON Series kick-off. Take a listen to this passionate woman’s guide to Rugby League and celebrating all things happening in the Australian sporting world.

Ladies Who League Podcast

Thanks to this Rugby series, I was lucky enough to be a part of a national program. To have met (and tackled) women of all backgrounds, of all different levels of experience and of determination and strength. I could not be more excited for the future of Rugby 7s in Australia. With the amount of talent I got to witness on that paddock, we are in for a few more gold medals yet, Australia!
To keep up to date with The Sydney Rays, especially ahead of the first Women’s NRC 15-aside series, check out: http://www.raysrugby.com.au

AFL – Still a Man’s Sport?

This interview explores current topics surrounding Australian rules football with the introduction of the Women’s league for the first time this season. The main research found that the AFL has a large pay gap between men and women’s professional AFL players. The ABC provided the statistics that female players are being paid 125 times less than their male counterparts. The Australian also discussed sexism in the sport. Additional research showed that there was a huge difference for New South Wales and Victorian fans, between what matches were available on free-to-air and cable television stations, as well as additional coverage on news stations, both television and radio, and in local newspapers.

Australian Rules football has had a predominately Victorian fan base within Australian society. The introduction of the Women’s league created exposure nation and world-wide in bridging the quality gap between men’s and women’s professional sports. But the question is, is the AFL really doing enough to bridge that gap so women unlike men, must work alongside their professional football career in order to make a living? Recently ABC online provided statistics showing that female players are being paid 125 times less than their male counterparts. It was also made apparent in the AFLW’s annual report that an entire women’s AFL team cost less that an individual average male player.

To gain an insight, UTS Sports Media spoke to an AFL mega fan Clare in Sydney last week. She has this to say on the issue: ‘’ With it being such a massive thing firstly, to the women in the AFL league, I think they’re doing a fantastic job this season, with the introduction of women. However, there’s still a long way to go for women to have the same opportunities as men do.’’

The Women’s league certainly gained great exposure across the shortened eight-week season, the exhibition match, won by 19 points by the Demons, reached 1.1 million viewers who watched at least five minutes across Channel 7, 7mate and Foxtel. (Footywire.com.au statistics).

With so much exposure and fans barracking for their favourite teams, it would make sense that football would be a full-time job for the female athletes, like the men? Think again. The top two players of each team will get about $25,000 for the season, and then $10,000 for high profile players, and $5,000 for everyone else. You read correctly: These elite athletes will earn merely $5,000 for an eight-week season. All are expected to train about nine hours per week, plus pre-season. This seems incomparable with an average male player who earns just over $300,000 (ABC.net). This essentially equates to buying an entire women’s team for the cost of a single male player. It just doesn’t add up.

Clare voiced her concerns on this topic by saying, ‘’As a mother of a daughter, I am very excited by the fact that women’s league has been introduced. And by the time she’s old enough, hopefully those years would have provided enough time for it to have developed and become an equal opportunity. ‘’ The problem seems to lie with broadcasting rights to women’s matches, as that’s where the big money lies. It would be expected to take a few years before the broadcasters would pay rights to show women’s footy matches, according to AFL’s general manager of game and market development, Simon Lethlean.

As long as the women are paying the same game, they deserve the rights to be paid equally.

Below is what the public had to say:

AFLTwitter Poll

AFL Fb Poll

Too Much Ego, Kills Talent

For some people, their world can revolve around, how many ‘likes’ they need to attain on social media, in order to validate their existence, or feel worthy. It could be easy to get caught up in the popularity contest. By comparing how many ‘followers’ you have, to the person next to you. Some people too, feel the need to create an idealistic life with pictures; to make themselves seem more attainable to people viewing behind a screen. This is not real life

Once upon a time, I too was so naive to get caught up in this world. And was worried about my social media life reflecting how many people liked me, in real life. Then I realised how shallow and Ridiculous this thought process, really was. You are worth much more than that. And to be honest, now that this no longer phases me – I’ve been a lot happier ever since. 

Your success in this world, depends on gracefully you move through life, how much you put in and how well you treat others. 1000 likes on a selfie, ain’t going to save you when you’re in trouble or keep you warm at night. 

I have noticed the world of Track and Field, has become very much similar in following this Trend. I love track. I always have. It’s my passion. And a huge part of my life. This will be my eighteenth season, as a competing athlete. And I’ve begun to notice these negative trends progress over the years. 

Politics, gossip and ‘followers’ – have somewhat been a closer focus and point of conversation, rather than how fast, strong, or agile someone is. Those other elements have nothing to do with performance. This doesn’t make sense. This frustrates me. 

Being an individual sport, it can become very lonely out there. No Team, backing you. Just the track. Your thoughts in your head and the hard work you’ve put in, to get you to that point. And then, this ‘Trend’ is continuing to emerge and take focal point. Where it seems people have progressively begun to judge another athlete, based on how many followers she or he has, or how their social life matches up to their fellow competitors.

I’m sorry, but that isn’t going to make you run a PB. Attain a qualifier. Or win a medal. It’s going to create a false sense of security. Make you worry about your reputation. And create an environment for yourself, that encourages popularity based majorly on looks. Rather than yourself as a human being. 

Don’t get me wrong; Social media is a wonderful tool! For sharing memories, marketing and promotion or advertising. But it should not be a platform for bullying and slander, because someone doesn’t ‘match up’ to their competitor online. Even though they might be a greater athlete on the track than them.  What has our sport become? Bullying is never okay.

I, personally have been bullied on social media, a few times over. It’s strange encounter. Having Someone hiding behind a keyboard, throwing words at you. Having someone try and bring you down, in order to make themselves look more cool, or more attainable for what ever reason. 
Having someone judge your worth, based on a picture? They don’t even know you. They don’t know how deep their words could be cutting. They don’t know your situation or the state of your mental health. They don’t know you, as a person. Yet, they attack – for personal gain? Or for a laugh? That doesn’t help anything. Or anyone. 

Your ego, is your worst enemy. This negative energy thrown around, will only ultimately come back to bite you. 

I’ve found this trend translate from behind the screen to real life, in more recent circumstances. I recently had a former bully, approach me in a social situation… and try and get some kind of gain from making a public personal attack. 

Fortunately I was mature enough, to defuse the situation. Act politely. And discontinue that encounter as quick as it started, much to their dismay. But, I do wonder – what fuelled their experience? What was their goal behind doing that? To want to personally attack me… for being me? I kinda felt sorry for them, in that moment. 

I’ve never done anything to harm this person in any way metaphorically or physically, but yet I am a target? No. I will not stand for this. I deserve to go through life, being authentically me. Free of judgement, just like the next person. Or fear of someone trying to bring me down for simply being myself. And, as does each of you, equally have that right! 

This egotism, can move into how you interact in front of people. If you surround yourself with that negative persona for long enough, it can become you. And I’ve seen it change people’s personalities, just like this individual’s. 

To say the right things in front of the screens and then slander other people behind the scenes. 

Humility

And I can only wish these people, attain enough self confidence to become humble. To realise their actions aren’t making themselves a better person, a better athlete or making the world better. It’s only bringing someone else down. 

I encourage you: Never lower yourself to your bully’s standards. Don’t follow The Trend. Negative people will find their flaws. Karma will take care of that. 
Your job it to keep doing you. Authentically you. And move through life attracting all the positive energy, you solely deserve.  

Run your race, you beauty! 

The Cost of Ambition

The alarm goes off. Your day begins. It’s still dark outside. You think, ”do I really have to.” Inner you says ”Yes! Rise and grind, girl.”

I’m not a morning person. But it has to get done. Training. Work day. More training. It’s 8:30pm and you’re still in the gym on a Sunday evening, thinking ”What am I even doing here?” Inner you says ”Cause you’ve got work to do.”It’s a constant brain-battle, between your mind and body. 


You know you need to do those early mornings, those late nights. Those extra training sessions. The active recovery. The rehab. The gruelling sports massages and acupuncture sessions to stay uninjured. The Friday nights spent at the gym, instead of at the club with your mates.You need to Work multiple jobs: to sustain this life.

Because you’re not an average human. You’re a person who won’t settle for a mediocre life. You crave something more.Something extraordinary. And you’ll do everything it takes to get there.If you can resonate with this mind-play.

Maybe not resonate directly to lifestyle , as maybe your goal isn’t physical, like mine. Maybe you are studying to better your work life.

Maybe you are working your butt off, in a job you aren’t necessarily passionate about, to better your passions in life. To better someone else’s life that you are responsible for. Or simply to just get by. 

Whatever you’re doing.I encourage you to keep going. Never stop the grind. Every step you aim to better yourself, every step you are closer to those goals.Never settle less, than the life you expected of yourself.

It will all be worth it, oneday soon enough. You’ll know why you had to go through it all. Until then, trust the process. 

You got this

Athletics Australia Announces Summer 2017 Competition Structure

Australian athletics fans, are in for a delight as Athletics Australia finally announces the competition structure for the 2016/2017 summer season.

There are some major changes to the association’s most anticipated competition: The 2017 Australian Athletics Championships, National titles. Once formally a four-day long event, for both abled-bodied and para-athletes Open aged category athletes.

The decision to combine both junior and senior competition, has created and eight-day long event for next year’s National Titles.

This new structure was designed in conjunction with Athletics Australia’s Member Associations and will be the largest annual athletics event in Australia and the Oceania-Pacific region. With an estimated 3500 Athletes to be competing, next March.

It will bring together participants of all ages in the pursuit of Personal Best’s and national championship medals, to the host city of Sydney, held at Sydney Olympic Park Athletics Centre.

Another major change to the competition schedule is the ‘’Summer of Aths’’ Grand Prix Event. This is the first time it will be held over two days, hosted by the nation’s capital, at the Australian Institute of Sport in Canberra, ACT.

The aim of this change, was to attract more spectators to the championships. The two-day elite series, will welcome the very best able-bodied and para-athletes as they make final preparations for the 2017 Australian Athletics Championships.

‘’Nitro Athletics’’ is another exciting addition to the calendar. This is something Athletics in Australia has never seen before. It will be a ground-breaking team-based athletics series that will pit the best athletes from across Australia and around the world against each other across three events. More information will be confirmed on the Athletics Australia website, but there is a promise that the Fastest Man in The World, none other than Usain Bolt will be making an appearance, in this new exciting event.

Other smaller, structural changes, to each state and territory were made in this year’s calendar. Predominately including more competition and more elite level competition, with the change to record performance eligible for overseas competition.

For more information on the exciting changes, keep checking Athletics Australia and relevant state and territory associated websites, for updates.