From our perspective at SBS, developing Zela was a no-brainer and something that I am so pleased and truly honoured to be a part of.
Sound like a whole lot of fluff? Somewhere along the line, someone had that very same thought when it was said that girls can play football or that female jockeys do have a place in the horse racing industry.
Still sound like fluff? More like watch and learn.
Over the course of the last year, we have had great cause to celebrate when it comes to women’s sporting achievements.
The Matildas became the first senior national football team to reach the quarter-final stages of the World Cup, jockey Michelle Payne became the first ever woman to win a Melbourne Cup and the Diamonds won their third-straight Netball World Cup title – and that’s just the tip of the iceberg.
Most recently, ratings from the inaugural Women’s Big Bash League have eclipsed those of the A-League and proved there is an audience hungry for women’s sports.
Great moments like this have inspired us to create an online catalogue if you will, of all the latest and greatest news items dedicated to successful female athletes everywhere.
Most importantly though, it provides young girls and women everywhere the chance to have a platform to freely express themselves and to be heard.
As a society we have grappled for far too long with the view that women don’t have a place outside of the kitchen.
Proper women knew their place and it was wearing an apron and offering apple pie to their husbands, not donning a football jersey and shouting at your team’s centre back for their costly defensive mistake.
Thankfully times have changed and my gosh it’s for the better!
However, there are still some who still think a woman is better suited to a pair of heels than cleats.
The only difference is, when the likes of Anthony Bourdain or Gordon Ramsey picked up a spatula and turned it into a full-time profession, there was no collective outcry from women slamming them and suggesting ‘he can’t cook like a woman, get him out of there!’
Likewise, this incessant argument that men’s sport is better than women’s cannot continue to be peddled as a valid point. It’s an opinion, not a fact and just because you think it, doesn’t mean it’s true.
The sooner that’s made clearer, the better.
What is a fact though, is that women’s sport is not asking to be better than men’s – it’s there to be consumed and enjoyed just like all sport is.
You can quote evidence and statistical data all you like when it comes to the physical make-up of the genders but then you’ve just complicated an already unnecessary argument and forgotten what this is all about and that’s sport.
Simple in its form, it can be played by anyone, is open to all age groups and it’s bloody entertaining.
There’s nothing controversial about that, yet I’ve seen so much negative, insulting and disrespectful dialogue over the years, all directed at women involved in the sporting industry.
For what purpose?
What is its main objective, other than to see us return to the Dark Ages which employed slaves, encouraged racism and condemned freedom?
We’re not talking about solving the world’s problems or suggesting that your masculinity will decrease in the household just because your wife can shoot a three pointer and you can’t.
Little Jenny won’t start burning her bras and hating men if she prefers to play with a rugby ball over Barbies and likewise, little Chris won’t be cast into the depths of hell to accompany Satan if his sister can bowl a ball twice as fast as he can.
It’s time for attitudes towards women in sport to evolve but it’s also important to note that there is a responsibility on both sides – men and women to ensure this happens.
Zela is just one step towards change.
It’s a place where you are free to express your opinions, where the courage of your conviction is applauded not reprimanded and where you can be yourself with the hopes that one day, the world too, can share our views.
That’s why I am personally inviting you to join us on this journey – I promise you won’t regret it.