Lucy and Emma Race have partnered with the Office for Women in Sport and Recreation to create a talent pathway for women in footy broadcasting.
The duo have long been advocates not just for women’s sport, but the contribution women can make in off-field positions. Designed as a talent pathway, Making The Call is a mentoring program for aspiring female Aussie Rules broadcasters in play by play, expert comments and boundary rider positions. It is a five session, online program designed to assist participants in creating a professional showreel as well as learning techniques from those who hold positions within the industry.
“We’ve got the experience to prove that women see the game really differently and talk about the game really differently to men. So it’s an opportunity for innovation, to be able to amplify women’s voices talking about sports,” says Emma.
It’s not just the lack of women in the TV and radio broadcast of Australian rules football that presents as a problem. Too often women involved in the broadcast are allocated roles that don’t allow them to share their knowledge of the game, but it’s Daisy Pearce’s expert comments role at Channel 7 that has started to have an impact on how women’s knowledge of sport is perceived.
“Often there’s been a tendency around sport to give women roles which don’t put them in the role of the authority.” Lucy explains, “That’s why I think Daisy is so powerful because in her being the expert that everybody goes to for the expert analysis, it really is resetting the way that the audience thinks about women’s relationship with sport.”
There are other sports that have begun to push for more female voices in the commentary box, and Emma pinpoints cricket at the leaders in this space. “Cricket’s really done that so well in that way, and we should be influenced by people who are doing things well.” Lucy adds, “what we’ve seen in the commentary boxes of the WBBL, and cricket more broadly, is we’ve seen women be part of those commentary teams, and it makes me feel more welcome in the sport.”
While most have felt the imbalance in our footy commentary boxes somewhat creep up, both Emma and Lucy can recall key moments in recent memory where the overwhelmingly male broadcast was stark.
Emma is quick to point her moment out. “There was an AFLW game I remember that came out of Queensland during last season, and there were no female callers on it… it made me just query, what are the pathways for women to make sure there are always women in the broadcast of AFLW?”
For Lucy however, it’s a little different. “To me, it’s always been at the start of each sporting season when broadcasters put out who their team will be and we never, ever, ever get close to a 50/50 gender split.”
And that’s the goal, a 50/50 split in commentary of both women’s and men’s sport. “As much as our goals are to really try to get people to the point that we can have an all-female commentary team for AFLW, the bigger goal is really to be working towards 50/50 gender equality across all commentary boxes,” says Lucy.
While this program launches with a focus on Aussie Rules commentary, the Race sisters aim to expand opportunities to those pursuing other sports.
“In the years ahead of us we’ve got the FIBA Women’s Basketball World Cup and the FIFA Women’s World Cup about to be on our doorstep, and it would be really nice for people who are here to see that we will be leading the way or, at least, demonstrating that in commentary boxes.”
Currently, however, the program is launching as a first step for women in Victoria looking to pursue footy broadcasting roles, because while the launch and growth of the AFLW competition has “changed the perception of anyone who wants to play the game… we [aren’t] seeing that replicated in the broadcast.”
Anyone who has listened to The Outer Sanctum will be aware of Lucy and Emma’s passion for women in sport, so it comes as no surprise that they are the masterminds of such a program. Their partnership with the ongoing work of Victoria’s Office for Women in Sport and Recreation is a powerful way to amplify that passion, and benefit more women.
“It really demonstrates their commitment to women’s participation in sport… it’s a great partnership and it’s uniquely Victorian.”
Emma rounds out our conversation with the most appropriate comment of the whole discussion. “AFLW is a pathway for women as a whole in the industry, not just for the people on the field.”
The Victorian Government Change Our Game initiative is aimed at increasing the number of women and girls participating in sport on and off the field.
Victorian-based aspiring footy broadcasters who identify as women and are over the age of 18 can now submit their expression of interest in participating in Making The Call, with applications closing on October 21st. For more details visit the Office for Women in Sport and Recreation.