EACH FOR EQUAL: Cricketer and journalist Holly Ferling weighs in on where the world of women's sport currently stands for the South Burnett Time's special International Women's Day edition.
EACH FOR EQUAL: Cricketer and journalist Holly Ferling weighs in on where the world of women's sport currently stands for the South Burnett Time's special International Women's Day edition.

Holly hits wicket on head in female-focused podcast

INTERNATIONAL Women's Day provides us all with an opportunity to celebrate the achievements of women but it's also a chance to reflect and assess how we are travelling as a society.

This year's theme - Each for Equal - couldn't be more fitting for the sporting landscape. It's a reminder for all of us to continue to challenge the status quo to create a more equitable world, and it's a feat I've already witnessed from some individuals.

I like to call these people 'game changers,' regardless if they've stepped foot on a sporting field or not. It's something that inspired me to start my own podcast 'Girls & Glory' because I believe these stories provide greater context of where sport has been, but also where it's heading.

That's what makes them game changers - they do it for the future of our sports, not for the accolades or for the short term.

Forward thinking is the definition of Belinda Clark.

If you don't know the name, you should. Not only has she been dubbed the Don Bradman of women's cricket, her leadership within Cricket Australia as an administrator is something she'll be remembered for more so than her days on the field.

Australian cricket legend, Belinda Clark. Picture: Nicole Cleary
Australian cricket legend, Belinda Clark. Picture: Nicole Cleary

In 2016, I can remember sitting in a room with the Australian women's cricket team and having Belinda present to us about the upcoming T20 World Cup to be held in Australia in 2020. The final was to fall on International Women's Day.

I'll never forget her telling us the lofty goal she and the International Cricket Council had set for that final - to sell out the MCG. I remember the mixed emotions of that room four years ago; the uncertainty but also the excitement of its possibility.

This was at a time where the Women's Big Bash League was in its infancy, with the average attendance to the games at just over 2000 people.

Now, while I'm sitting here writing this, more than 50,000 tickets to that final have been sold. While it's still short of capacity, I'm excited to see what the remainder of the tournament brings once the semi-finals are played.

Four years ago, we weren't sure if the sporting landscape would be open to this, but look at what is being achieved. A lot can change in a couple years but only if you have the bravery of a trailblazer like Belinda Clark.

Australian opening batsman Belinda Clark drives for four runs in the Australia vs India women's Second Test match at St. Peter's College Oval, 03 Feb 1991.
Australian opening batsman Belinda Clark drives for four runs in the Australia vs India women's Second Test match at St. Peter's College Oval, 03 Feb 1991.

The media is another influential space second to our sports administrators.

Fortunately in today's society there's no shortage of female commentators and journalists within media.

It wasn't always the case but there's a number of names which have broken through the 'novelty' or 'diversity' tag to become some of the leaders in sports media.

Sam Squires long championed women's sport as a television journalist.

This was defined by her decision to start her own online platform 'Sportette' to publish the pieces on female athletes that her news editor at the time shut down.

Sports reporter Sam Squires. Picture: Mark Calleja
Sports reporter Sam Squires. Picture: Mark Calleja

Sports commentators and hosts have faced similar obstacles on their way to the top with one of the greats of sports coverage Yvonne Sampson once told she was 'not suitable for TV.' Now she effortlessly anchors Fox Sports NRL coverage as one of the most respected presenters in the industry.

Cricket coverage wouldn't be the same without the smooth tones of Mel Jones' voice, who went from solo commentary gigs of club finals to now being one of the most esteemed voices of the game, not just in Australia, but worldwide, lending her voice to World Cup events and the IPL.

Mitchell Johnson and Mel Jones. Picture: Andrew Tauber
Mitchell Johnson and Mel Jones. Picture: Andrew Tauber

These women have already started the evolution of women's sport being recognised as equal to their male counterparts, but they've also have inspired the next generation of female media personalities and sports commentators who will be recognised for their abilities, rather than their gender. Game changers come in many forms, from high profile players and journalists, to the grassroots club officials and the ones working behind the scenes.

They've led the way for our next generation of athletes, commentators and administrators who will continue to make waves in this space.

The only uncertainty surrounds just how far the boundaries will be pushed in the years to come, but I'm excited to watch it unfold.

STAR STRUCK: Kingaroy Junior Cricket Master Blasters players meet South Burnett cricket legend Holly Ferling at the GABBA.
STAR STRUCK: Kingaroy Junior Cricket Master Blasters players meet South Burnett cricket legend Holly Ferling at the GABBA. Contributed

To stay up to date with the inspiring life and times of the women dominating Australian sport, tune into "Girls and Glory" a brand new weekly podcast hosted by Holly bringing you all the stories from the best female athletes, as well as their tips and tricks for performing at the elite level.

This podcast also aims to shine a light on the off field 'game changers,' from support staff helping these women achieve their best, to the media personalities and key administrators who have been kicking the women's sport movement forward.

You can find the "Girls & Glory" podcast on Apple Podcasts, Spotify or on Holly's website.

About the author

Unlike Cricket, Holly's aspirations have no boundaries. Becoming a cricket sensation at only 14 years old after securing a hat-trick in her first three balls of her men's grade debut, Holly has forever strived to better herself on and off the cricket pitch. She debuted for the Australian Women's Cricket Team at age 17, in all three formats - ODI, T20 and Test Cricket - all while completing her schooling in Kingaroy, in country Queensland.

Holly now proudly represents the Melbourne Stars, Queensland Fire, Western Suburbs Districts CC. As a devastating right arm fast-med pace bowler, she flourishes under the pressure of big stage matches at all levels of competition.

Off the field, Holly has worked as a journalist for three years in a commercial radio newsroom for Macquarie Media, as well as reporting and commentating for FOX Sports, Channel 7, and Optus. Remarkably, Holly balances these commitments while continuing to study at university. She works alongside a number of household brand names as an ambassador, while continuing to promote the game, and women's sport. 

Read more inspirational stories about South Burnett women as part of our special 2020 International Women's Day feature here.