For many female sporting stars achieving at a high level in their codes, the option to move on to a national level has never really been an option.
Now, with the rise of competitions like the Super Netball, the W-League, the Women's National Basketball League and even the AFL Womens in the past two years, doors are opening all over the country to make sporting codes a professional career.
Despite the multitude of options becoming available, many women find themselves walking the path to sporting stardom, and professional status, without a helping hand from those that came before.
That’s something Sam Poolman, Katie Ebzery and Amy Harrison are looking to change in the Hunter, with an upcoming event geared towards helping young women understand how to use sponsorship to support their careers, and develop the necessary business acumen to succeed well into the future.
“It’s about how we can help the next generation of sports stars find out key knowledge that they might not just have readily available,” Poolman explained. “We wanted to have a range of sports on the panel, and so we got Katie and Amy on board.”
Poolman believes that “education before you get to a top level” is key for any aspiring sporting star.
“I don’t think a lot of that crucial information is getting delivered when players are coming through the ranks,” she said. “I think it’s a pretty awesome panel, there’s a lot of knowledge there.”
“Even just a couple of years ago something like this being around for me would have been pretty helpful,” she added with a laugh.
Although the three panel experts represent high-participation sports in the Hunter like netball, soccer and basketball, Poolman made it clear the seminar is “open invitation to all sporting codes”.
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Due to the rising popularity in sports like AFL and rugby league, Poolman knows many of the young women looking to take steps up the professional ladder may not be from the same umbrella as her sport, but said she wants to “help everyone”.
“We want to get as much information to girls across all sports, there’s so many women across so many codes that are pushing that next level now, and they have to have an understanding of sponsorship, and how to represent themselves.
“I think that’s something that gets lost a lot, women come through with a small knowledge of working with money, but they haven’t had any skills or practice promoting things, or how they represent themselves to clubs and teams.
“All three of us [Poolman, Ebzery and Harrison] know that if you don’t show yourself off well, you don’t know who sponsors your team and you don’t have that experience with it already, you can miss that opportunity to get to the upper levels of the sport you love to play.”
The event idea first came about when Kylie Frearson, a local business woman who founded Property Solutions 101, saw there was no clear way for young women to further their understanding of sponsorship or sports business.
She believes the rise in women’s sporting codes around Australia should come hand in hand with “bridging the financial gap” that has developed between male and female sports professionals.
“All evidence demonstrates female athletes generally earn far less than their male counterparts, even when they reach the same levels of success,” Ms Frearson said.
“This means female elite athletes need to find other income streams until this disparity is removed, and sponsorship is a key way to do this.
“Unfortunately sponsorship education is not something that is focused on during the developmental years of our athletes, meaning they are behind by the time they reach elite level. We wanted to help our young, local female athletes get on the front foot.”
The event is sponsored by Property Solutions 101, Crosbie Finance, Jenkins Legal Services and The Marketing GP, all of whom came on board as soon as they heard Ms Frearson’s seminar plans.
The seminar will be held at the Harbourview Function Centre in Newcastle (150 Wharf Road) on Wednesday, August 1. The event will begin from 5pm.
To RSVP head to the Sponsorship Education Seminar’s Facebook listing. All tickets will be $5, and ticketing proceeds will be combined in a fund for a local female athlete. Details will be provided at the event.