EqualPlay is a not-for-profit Hobsons Bay group, working towards a natural equality within grassroots sporting clubs. A natural equality will mean everyone will have an opportunity to play sport and feel welcome in any club. Fellow club members, while acknowledging each other’s differences – whether it be gender, ethnicity, and physical or mental abilities – will celebrate their club’s diversity.
The group came into being, when three like-minded local women wanted to do more than simply talk about making sport accessible and comfortable for everyone and anyone. These women – Lisa Lymbery, Sandra Wilson and Jen Robinson, all understand the benefits of being active, as well as the positive social impacts an inclusive club has on the wider community.
Establishing EqualPlay has taken time and useful input from many other community-minded women, including Debra Thomas (Barnestoneworth United Soccer Club), Sue Sofarnos (Newport Ladies Lacrosse Club), and Anne Chapman (PE Coordinator – Sacred Hearts Primary School). The decision was made to tackle gender equality first, by establishing a Female Friendly Framework, to be used throughout sporting and other activity-based groups.
Lisa is the driving force behind this wonderful initiative. With many years’ involvement in community sport as an athlete, committee member, coach, and sports administrator, she is a passionate advocate for creating positive change in grassroots sports clubs. Lisa will carry out research through Victoria University in 2019, to guide the creation of the Female Friendly Framework, which will then be implemented by EqualPlay into five local sports clubs.
Sandra Wilson is a Hobsons Bay councillor and former mayor. She launched into sport at a committee level, when her son started playing at Altona Junior Football Club. Her four years as Registrar gave her an up-close experience of the challenges of volunteer-run clubs and she advocated to the Western Region Football League (WRFL) for a stronger focus on volunteering. This led to her being invited to join the WRFL board, where she has been a director since 2015. She believes that good governance in sporting clubs, includes a focus on gender equity.
Jen Robinson is involved with the Williamstown Congs Cricket Club and established the first girls-only junior cricket team in Hobsons Bay. Jen played cricket so long ago, culottes were the compulsory uniform for women. Shocked to discover several years ago, the huge decline in women’s cricket, Jen established both a junior girls’ team and a women’s team in the WCCC – EMP/Willy Congs. Fortunately, the decline has been addressed somewhat by Cricket Victoria and female teams are increasing rapidly.
To launch both EqualPlay and the framework into the awareness of the community, there will be an exhibition of photographs and stories shared by females across all sports — both positive and negative experiences. The display will begin at the Hobsons Bay City Council, in the first week of December – it will then move to libraries and clubs throughout the municipality.
Spreading the word about EqualPlay will help make equality in sport the norm and not an aspiration. EqualPlay has an online presence with Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/equalplay/ and on Twitter @EqualPlayAus. Anyone interested in supporting or joining the group can contact Lisa on 0418 887 679.
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