Participation the goal

VINCENT deputy mayor Susan Gontaszewski wants more women kicking a ball around the city’s parks and ovals.

Cr Gontaszewski has called for an audit of the city’s sports facilities after a recent report found women made up less than a third of all local club memberships.

City officers noted that few of Vincent’s sports facilities cater for women, lacking privacy screens in changerooms, individual toilet cubicles and lockable showers.

“We want men and women and boys and girls and everyone in between to be able to play sport, and I think it’s important they have those opportunities close to home,” Cr Gontaszewski says.

She lives opposite a park and says the gender imbalance on the playing field is disappointing.

“I started thinking about women and girls doing so well on the international sporting stage and young girls seeing that and thinking ‘I want to be that’ or ‘I want to have a go’, and I wanted to explore how to make more space for them to engage in sport locally,” she says.

Following her successful motion at Tuesday’s meeting, Vincent will also run a marketing campaign recognising local sportswomen, and will hold workshops with local clubs about increasing female participation.

• Vincent deputy mayor Susan Gontaszewski gives mayor Emma Cole a workout in the goals; we think it’s safe to say Lydia Williams’ place in the Matilda’s isn’t under immediate threat. Photo by Steve Grant

Cr Gontaszewski takes her daughters to women’s AFL matches, but says she’s never played a team sport.

“Maybe if there were more opportunities, I would have,” says the lifelong Vincent resident.

“We need to address really critical issues around infrastructure.

“We can’t say we want women and girls playing sports if they don’t have access to functional facilities to play sports in.”

She says some clubs are leading the way, with Modernians Hockey Club boasting 44 per cent female participation.

“Modernians was a shining light out of this report and we can engage with them and learn from how they’ve created an inclusive sports club,” Cr  Gontaszewski says.

Local resident Evangeline Douglas says she played AFL in school, but wouldn’t know where to look to join a women’s team in Vincent.

“There’s so many green spaces and sporting fields in the city of Vincent but I’m not running out on a soccer pitch because there’s no incentive to,” she says.

Ms Douglas, who was returning from the gym when she spoke with the Voice, says she thinks gyms have made more space for women.

“At the gym it’s not just gym bros pumping iron anymore, there’s lots of group class with women of all ages.”

Ms Douglas says she’s looking forward to seeing sporting clubs also make space for women like her.

by MOLLY SCHMIDT

One response to “Participation the goal

  1. This is such a timely re-focussing on our local sporting and green spaces: who is accessing them and who could be with just a few changes. Age, gender and ability ought not to pre-clude use of public open “sports” areas. Well done Mayor Emma Cole and Councillor Susan Gontaszewski for opening the conversation and action towards more inclusive use of these areas.

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