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My Holiday #WomenInSport reads

Siren co-founder Kasey Symons likes reading stories about sport. A lot! Here Kasey shares a selection of the stories she enjoyed reading over her break.

In my roles of academic sports research, freelance writing and being part of the Siren team, devouring women in sport stories is a delightful part of the job. However, it’s rare that I take to a piece without the lens of ‘work’ layered over it. I’m critiquing the writing to see what makes it a great piece and how I can learn from it or use it as an example when mentoring others. I look at the issues raised and relate them back to research. I think about the evolution of the story, what the flow on effects could be and what else I need to read to be across what is to come. Don’t get me wrong, this is my passion, and I do truly love doing all of this (and you can hear me chat about this passion for collating content on our podcast!), but sometimes, because my work is so intrinsically connected to what I like to do in my ‘free time’ (lol, ‘free time’!) it can become a little exhausting sometimes.

So I spent my holiday break giving myself what I consider a real luxury. Reading women’s sports content for pure pleasure! I didn’t take to the papers, websites and blogs with my usual rigour to ensure I was up to date on every single story, league, competition and issue with references ready and comparative analysis notes compiled. I read just to read, to enjoy the work of my colleagues and heroes, and marvel at the wonderful women creating excellent work in our field. Here are a few of the pieces that I really loved reading on my summer break.

AFLW 

This piece by Melbourne’s Libby Birch was brilliant. I am loving seeing players use their voices more and more in the media to call attention to the realities of the current environment.

Part-time players, full-time responsibility: COVID-19 is stretching AFLW

Libby Birch 

The Age

Siren Collaborator Sarah Burt also wrote this great piece for The Age which brings together some innovative photography by Darrian Traynor to also address the unsustainability of players continuing to work full-time.

Play hard, work harder: The ‘exhausting’ balance for AFLW players

Sarah Burt

The Age

And of course, Siren co-founder Kate O’Halloran’s piece for ABC Sport on vision for AFLW released by the league is a must read. No one breaks down AFLW issues like Kate. 

The AFL’s vision for AFLW is bold and aspirational, but full-time professionalism a sticking point

Kate O’Halloran

ABC Sport

Football 

This story had me in tears. The subject matter is emotional enough, but Sam Lewis’ beautiful narrative framing and deep care she takes with her storytelling makes this such an exceptional piece of sports writing. 

Four months on, Afghanistan’s women’s national team are finding family and freedom on Australia’s pitches

Samantha Lewis

ABC Sport 

Jenan Taylor is producing some great stories for us as part of our Siren Sport X ABC Sport partnership. I loved learning about the Bayside Futsal community and I always love reading about the impacts of community sport. 

Sport for the women at Bayside Futsal means choosing community over competition

Jenan Taylor 

Siren Sport X ABC Sport

Marissa Lordanic’s wrap of the Nike FC Cup is excellent. Any piece of football writing that opens with a music theory metaphor, bringing my two passions of sport and art together, is a quick way to my heart. Also, this piece has some superb photos from Siren Collaborator, Rachel Bach. This is a blueprint for how all match reports should be written, with passion and poetry. 

Calder United beat South Melbourne 3-0 to claim unprecedented fourth straight Nike FC Cup triumph

Marissa Lordanic

Optus Sport

Basketball 

The break gave me time to read a few editions of Lindsay Gibbs’ Power Plays newsletter that I was a bit behind on (which I am sure you have also subscribed to, right??). This edition really summed up so many of my feelings towards the end of 2021 (and maybe still now starting 2022!) so perfectly. Lindsay has such a great talent for navigating the in-between and uncertain—in issues in women’s sports, yes, but in this edition, she also gives a great summation of being a sports writer and freelancer in 2021. 

This is also placed alongside her conflicted feelings about San Antonio Spurs assistant coach Becky Hammon’s impending appointment to a head coaching role in the WNBA (Hammon has since been announced in the role of head coach for the Las Vegas Aces – read this great piece by Candace Buckner for the Washington Post) which was something I think a lot of hoops fans felt. We’re thrilled for Hammon of course, but that she couldn’t take that step in the NBA is frustrating and with Hammon gone, that glass ceiling seems further away again.

Taking back the reins

Lindsay Gibbs

Power Plays

Cricket

Cricket expert and academic Raf Nicholson compiled her Test team of the year—which is actually really exciting, as she highlights as she opens her list:

“Most years the very idea of a women’s Test team of the year would be redundant, but 2021 has bucked that trend: it’s the first calendar year since 2014 to feature two women’s Tests.” What do you think of Raf’s inclusions?

Women’s Test cricket team of the year: from Ecclestone to Verma

Raf Nicholson

The Guardian 

Netball

Erin Delahunty dissects the upcoming Super Netball season after the schedule was announced in December. I will read anything that mentions a fans first approach in the title, and also anything by Erin Delahunty.

Super Netball scheduling clashes avoided as fans’ needs finally acknowledged

Erin Delahunty

The Guardian

Active Recreation

Marnie Vinall was my go-to for some lighter summer reads and her pieces for Broadsheet on trying rollerskating and bouldering were just great fun, and may just get me over the line to get some skates! 

How To Start: Rollerskating

Marnie Vinall

Broadsheet 

How To Start: Bouldering

Marnie Vinall

Broadsheet 

I also found this piece by Donna Lu for The Guardian about heading down to Urbnsurf in Melbourne quite fun. I might just live vicariously through Donna’s experience though!

‘Falling face first into a wall of chlorinated water’: a beginner’s guide to inland surfing

Donna Lu

The Guardian

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