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AIS and BlueScope link female athletes with business leaders

BlueScope Change the Game group
The Change the Game participants at the AIS.

24 Nov 2015

Australian Sports Commission (ASC) Chair John Wylie AM said women’s sport offered compelling opportunities for corporate Australia as the Australian Institute of Sport (AIS) and BlueScope launched a partnership to link female athletes with talented business executives.

Change the Game is a 12-month pilot programme between the AIS and BlueScope that aims to create more corporate opportunities for female athletes and improve gender diversity in sport and business.

Ten female athletes will be matched with emerging BlueScope executives, providing a mentoring relationship for mutual learning and development. The female athletes are from 10 different sports and include Olympians, Commonwealth Games medallists, world champions, Para-athletes and emerging international talent.

Mr Wylie said the ASC was committed to achieving greater recognition of women’s sport in media and commercially. Mr Wylie said Change the Game was a direct way of bringing together female athletes and business.

“The dominant performance of our Diamonds at the Netball World Cup, the inspiring effort of the Matildas at the FIFA Women’s World Cup, the Southern Stars reclaiming the Ashes and Michelle Payne’s historic victory in the Melbourne Cup – these inspiring feats have all sparked discussion this year about the gender disparity that can exist in sport,” Mr Wylie said.

“Women’s sport offers compelling commercial partnership opportunities for corporate Australia, yet it still captures less than 10 per cent of all commercial sponsorship.

“The ASC is fiercely committed to the fair recognition and reward of our elite female athletes and to the promotion of female participation in all levels and forms of Australian sport. This pilot programme with BlueScope is a tangible step towards bringing female athletes and the corporate world closer together for mutual benefit.

Change the Game opens a door into the corporate world for these female athletes, giving them a different perspective on transferrable skills such as performance and leadership. Equally, I think the athletes can provide an inspiring insight into the challenges of success in a sporting environment.

“The athletes taking part in this programme are not only successful in the sporting arena, but have demonstrated a well-rounded approach to study, work and the pursuit of excellence.”

BlueScope’s Managing Director and CEO, Paul O’Malley, told participants that the parallels between sport and business are well known, but the greatest similarity is the desire to develop ‘people who perform’.

“Whilst this innovative pilot programme is mutually beneficial, from our perspective we are really excited about how this programme can help make our next generation of leaders, elite performers. We are always open to innovative opportunities that grow our people and give them an edge.

“BlueScope recognises the vital role the AIS plays in Australian culture and we are proud to be supporting that through the Change the Game partnership.

“And it supports the BlueScope diversity strategy – to foster a talented workforce comprised of diverse opinion, gender, background, education, culture, experience, and beliefs. We are confident our emerging leaders will learn a lot from some of Australia’s most talented and elite sportspeople,” Mr O’Malley said.

Commonwealth Games gold medal boxer Shelley Watts and world champion netballer Sharni Layton are excited to be involved in Change the Game. The pair has launched their own business venture – Strong Chicks – aimed at empowering young women in all aspects of life.

“This is a great opportunity for the corporate and sport sectors to come together to exchange ideas and experiences,” Watts said. “All young girls striving for success, in any field, should have the confidence and opportunities to pursue their ambitions.”

Changing the Game Athletes: Sharni Layton (Netball); Shelley Watts (Boxing); Catherine Skinner (Shooting); Prue Watt (Para-swimming); Katie Kelly (Para-triathlon); Chloe Hosking (Cycling); Marianna Tolo (Basketball); Melinda McLeod (BMX); Madeleine Hogan (Athletics); Deanna Lockett (Speed skating)

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