They play, train and work like all sports professionals, but still, sportswomen aren’t paid on the same level or given the same amount of media coverage as their male counterparts.
Now at the height of her sporting career, Holly Ferling reflects on her awareness of the inequalities growing up.
“I remember writing speeches for English in year six about the pay disparities between women and men in sport as well as the difference in how each athlete was treated. As I got older, my eyes have been opened to the fact that it isn’t just an issue unique to sport,” Ferling says.
“There’s that old saying that goes, you can’t be what you can’t see. And that was all too true for me growing up in a small country town. I had no idea at the age of 12 that girls played cricket, let alone at the elite level.”
Fast forward ten years and Ferling is regularly approached by young girls telling her that they want to play for the Brisbane Heat one day.
“It’s super humbling, but it’s all because the coverage has increased. This is where the next five years is super exciting, and those young girls starting out their careers will walk into something incredible in the future,” she says.
Crediting the inspiring sportswomen of the past for paving the way for girls in sport today, Ferling wants to make sure her generation leave the legacy of women in sport in a better place than where they found it to inspire future female sporting heroes.
“The exciting thing now is that things are changing. It’s an exciting time to be a woman.”
We caught up with Holly for a quick Q & A…
You’re training as much as the men’s teams; can a female sports personality make a living from their profession?
Some can and some can’t. In the landmark MOU deal this year between our players association and Cricket Australia, our national female players are now considered full time athletes, earning enough to live off and train for a living. But most of the state and WBBL players have jobs or are studying outside of cricket. My team has a range of professions – a nurse working in the emergency department, PE teachers, a barista, small business owners, journalist and coaches. But I think that is what makes us unique. Cricket isn’t our job – it’s something we love. It’s stressful juggling it all but I think that’s what makes us well rounded people in the end. We would all love to play cricket full time and make it our only job, but I think as women’s sport becomes more professional, a lot of women will continue to do something (whether that be work or study) outside of their sport to keep their life balanced.
You’re a great role model for young girls today, how do you feel about this responsibly?
I remember in one of my lectures at university there was a debate about whether sports people should have to choose to be role models. And I think we need to. Sport doesn’t owe us anything – we as athletes owe it everything.
What motivates you as a sportsperson?
I’m always motivated by the challenge of being better than I was yesterday. It isn’t hard to find motivation when you take the field alongside 10 of your friends. Everything you do off the field is to ensure that you can do absolutely everything in your power on the field to get the win for your team.
Who do you look to for inspiration/guidance?
I am very lucky to have an amazing support network around me that know me sometimes better than I know myself. My parents have been there from the start, and my Dad was one of my first coaches. I always find myself calling him, discussing different things I’m trying to do in games and training. My boyfriend Josh also provides me with a bit of life balance and he is one of the most positive people I know. Sport can be a vicious cycle if you aren’t performing, you’re injured or your team is losing. He gives me that dose of reality and often helps me see the opportunities that lie within some of the challenges we face as athletes.
Does the WBBL team get a lot of support from the BBL players?
The Brisbane Heat is one club, two teams. Our boys have been fantastic support for the girls. They are always keeping up with our results and we’ve even had Chris Lynn come to a couple of sessions over the years to help our batters with their power hitting. We’ve completed pre-season camps together for the last couple of years where we have been pushed to our limits on Tangalooma Island. Those sorts of experiences create culture and helps all the players to get to know each other away from cricket as well.
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