International Women’s Day (IWD) is a global day celebrated annually that recognises the social, economic, cultural and political achievements of women.
IWD is all about unity, celebration, reflection, advocacy and action – attributes which are starting to be seen more on a broader sporting platform.
As one of the world’s leading sports for females, netball is constantly showing how gender equality and empowerment for women can be achieved by promoting confident, strong, skilled and talented leaders – both on and off the court.
Our Victorian netball coaches in particular are women who are driving the game and continuing to overcome challenges and potential barriers that continue to make our sport great.
This year’s theme for IWD is #BalanceforBetter, which provides a unified direction to guide and galvanize continuous collective action, where balance ultimately drives a better working world.
Samsung Australian Diamonds head coach, Lisa Alexander and former Melbourne Vixens player and now assistant coach, Sharelle McMahon share their views on female leadership and balancing coaching with parenthood.
Lisa Alexander – Samsung Australian Diamonds
“My coaching journey began when I was 18 in Melbourne. I had children during this time, my daughter Carly was around 6 months old. I just loved the fact that I could combine sport, coaching and motherhood at the same time, as well as studying teaching.
I had great family support – family is so important to me and it’s all part of the sporting journey that all of us take.
Netball illustrates the way you can have female coaches, strong role models and leaders. It also shows us the variety of coaches we have and the strength of our system. All our coaches are world class and all are women besides Rob Wright at the Suncorp Super Netball level.
We have never thought about gender in our high performance coach courses, it’s been open to anyone who has been able to demonstrate the level of experience – and that’s the way it should be.
A coach is a coach. It’s about whether you have the ability, the drive, the passion. And I can tell you that women do. We have had many fantastic leading women running our sport for over 90 years.”
Sharelle McMahon – Melbourne Vixens
“Coaching has been something I’ve always loved doing. After finishing my career as an athlete with the Melbourne Vixens, I started doing some specialist coaching with the team, and have now taken on the assistant coach role.
I think that anyone who’s a parent or a mum knows that it’s a juggle when you try and fit in work and everything else that goes into life when you’re looking after little people as well. But for me that’s just kind of been a part of my life in everything that I do.
I’ve been incredibly lucky with the Vixens, they have been so supportive in me coming back to playing and now coaching with little kids. I think bringing kids to training adds something really nice to the group.
I think there needs to be an acceptance and a push to get more females involved in leadership positions in lots of different areas, certainly in coaching. I think it’s something you can balance nicely as you move into motherhood. If you’ve got the right attitude and the right support network around you it can be done.”
At Netball Victoria we celebrate the growth of women’s sport, we pay respect to our sisters in other sporting codes, whilst we also commemorate the continued growth and success we are having as a sport ourselves.
Netball Victoria and the wider netball community will continue to look for ways to be bold for change in supporting women’s equality in Australia and the rest of the world.
As the incredible women, especially our netball coaches continue to overcome obstacles and press for progress, we will continue to grow as a sport for many years to come.