Empowering women in sport

Empowering women in sport
Brendan Rees

Harnessing the power of sport is something East Melbourne resident Sue Crow has used to make a difference to the lives of others.

Her contribution to managing various sports is extensive, with highlights including overseeing the establishment of a Women’s National Cricket League, being part of the establishment of the Melbourne Vixens Netball team, with its members winning the ANZ Championship in their second year.

Now, she has been honoured with a Member of the Order of Australia (AM) as part of this year’s Australia Day Honours List for her significant service to sport administration.

Ms Crow said she was lost for words when she received the news of the award but was equally honoured and humbled.

“Complete surprise and excitement,” she said, adding, “I wondered who may have nominated me – it is an honour that I thought ‘other people’ got”.

Ms Crow was the head of community at Melbourne City Football Club from 2010 to 2021 and has been a member of Football Australia’s Women’s Football Council since its formation.

Under her leadership, she fondly recalled sending groups of young leaders from Melbourne City’s community programs to Manchester City Football Club to train with other young leaders from around the world and “watching them grow and develop so that they can provide strong leadership through football in their own communities”.

She was also involved in running a City Sisters program for unemployed women to assist them in gaining employment and giving them self-confidence and fitness through football, while additionally setting up homework clubs in disadvantaged communities.

In other roles, she served as the CEO of Softball Australia from 2004-2007, in which she saw the Australian softball team win silver at the Greece Olympics in her first year.

But Ms Crow said her most notable highlight was initiating the integration of men’s and women’s cricket, which “took a long time nationally and there was a lot of resistance”.

“The vision was for women to be paid to play (instead of paying to play), to be fully professional, world leaders, watched on international TV and their skills and athleticism appreciated by both men and women,” she said.

“To see this happening now makes me very proud to have played a part in getting the vision realised.”

As a result, she said a memorable moment was viewing the women’s cricket World Cup at Eden Gardens in Calcutta in 1997, which saw 80,000 women and girls attend the game to watch Australia beat New Zealand.

Ms Crow said media coverage of women’s sport has drastically improved with many female role models with whom “women and girls can follow and aspire to be like”.

Asked about her passion for sport, she said it was instilled in her from a young age when her parents encouraged her to participate, in which she discovered its many health benefits.

“Participating in sport can prevent physical and mental illness and many social problems. I really believe the government should be prioritising investment into sport and physical activity and physical education in schools as a prevention and community benefit.”

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