Women in sport summit: World Cup tipped to be boon for international visitors

FIFA Women’s World Cup organisers will revisit the international visitor numbers and economic impact data included in the bid for next year’s tournament in Australia and New Zealand after unprecedented growth of women’s football.

Presenting a segment at the Ministry of Sport’s Women in Sport summit on the Gold Coast on Thursday, Jane Fernandez (Australia) and Jane Patterson (New Zealand) the chief operating officers for next year’s Women’s World Cup, outlined the extraordinary opportunities for the event next July and August.

“Looking at the Euros and how that was such an unbelievable success, it’s important that we review our numbers and make sure that we’re ready,” Fernandez said.

“This is part of the overall preparation for the tournament and also ensuring that all of our host cities, all of our governments and all of our fans, that everyone is prepared and ready to welcome the world to our shores.

“And there’s no better way to remind the world that we are now open for business … both Australia and New Zealand are amazing tourism destinations and we want everyone to know that we’re here and we’re ready to welcome you all.”

More than 87,000 fans watched the UEFA Women’s Euro final between England and Germany at Wembley Stadium in London and the crowd, while enormous is no one-off for a sport that continues to grow at record pace.

Fernandez outlined the opportunities open to women’s football over the next decade, with the fan base expected to double, while the commercial value is projected to undergo a six-fold increase by 2032.

That data has forced the re-evaluation of initial numbers in the bid document for what will be the biggest women’s sporting event in history.

But it’s not just the immediate event that is important.

“Legacy was always the first thought, never an afterthought, it was the first thought when we started bidding,” Fernandez said.

“FIFA is responsible for the global legacy of these tournaments and from a domestic viewpoint, Football Australia and New Zealand Football are driving legacy locally.

“It’s about driving investment into the women’s game. For the first time we have our own stand-alone commercial pillar.

“The momentum is behind us, the excitement is here, and we just can’t wait to see what’s going to happen next year.”

The World Cup executives were among several heavy hitters of sport to present at the conference, including Netball Australia boss Kelly Ryan, International basketball body FIBA’s Oceania executive director Amanda Jenkins and Tennis Australia’s Andrea Buckeridge.

Ministry of Sport CEO Ben Parsons said attitudes and perceptions change over the four editions of the conference.

“It’s really about learnings and connecting with the industry best and, and developing the opportunity,” he said.

“I just really hope that a couple of the great administrators and what they’re doing well leading deals in the way they’re positioning themselves, people take those ideas and leverage them into their own (sports).”

TOUGH REALITY FOR FEMALE SPORT TRAILBLAZERS

Chloe Molloy hopes she’s treading a path that makes the future better for professional women’s athletes that come after her but knows she’s stepping on the shoulders of trailblazers that have paved the way for her own journey.

AFLW player Molloy is among a new generation of women blazing a path as professional athletes in sports that were once shut off or all but invisible to girls who sought entry.

But even as one of the biggest stars in a code priding itself on the pathways opening to women at all levels of the game, Molloy cannot yet make ends meet as a full-time professional athlete.

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It’s an all-too-familiar tale for some of the country’s best female sports stars and one Molloy will explore further as part of a Kayo super panel at the Women in Sport summit on the Gold Coast on Thursday.

Run under the theme of In the Game, the fourth Women in Sport summit, to be held at Crowne Plaza, will feature some of the most influential organisations and executives in women’s sport, discussing issues affecting the growth, value and future of women’s sport in Australia.

Molloy, who juggles commentating duties with playing for Collingwood during the AFLW season, as well as a full-time executive producer role at Fox Footy, said while keeping all the balls in the air was “exhausting”, the opportunities also signalled progression in the roles open to women.

When she was young, Molloy can remember few if any, female athletes on television, with most of her sporting heroes male because that was that she could see.

And she is glad she is helping make a change.

“AFLW is semi-professional and some girls, with the pay increase, have been able to go more part-time with their career outside of the football income but it’s being an athlete is still a full-time gig,” she said.

“You want to you want to get sleep on the nights off, your social life takes sacrifices because you can’t really be out, so as much as it’s semi-professional, we all take it in a full-time capacity.

“So yeah, it’s exhausting. But it’s good and it’s progression and nothing good ever came easy.”

The progress for AFLW players in just seven seasons has been stark and Molloy said the push was on to become fully professional, especially with a new broadcast deal just struck for the code.

It might take time and there was work to be done but Molloy was optimistic about the future for female athletes in all sports in Australia.

“I think in a decade’s time, a young female is going to be drafted and she can call football her full-time job and I think that’d be something special,” she said.

“I don’t take for granted the part that I play in it and things like going to the summit and doing the Ministry of Sport women’s panel and talking about the stories from the AFLW in particular … and making people aware that what we’re going through now will pay off in the long run.

“The hard work a lot of pioneers are doing and pioneers before us even to get to the point where AFLW is a thing, you don’t you don’t want to forget where it all started and the journey that the W-League has taken to get to where it is but I’m honoured that I’m playing a small role in something much bigger.”

The Ministry of Sport Women in Sport conference will include keynote addresses from heavy hitters in the sports industry including FIFA Women’s World Cup Australia and New Zealand chief operating officers Jane Fernandez and Jane Patterson, Netball Australia boss Kelly Ryan, world basketball body FIBA’s Amanda Jenkins and Tennis Australia’s Andrea Buckeridge, among others.

Originally published as Women in sport summit: World Cup tipped to be boon for international visitors

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