Perth Lynx owner Jack Bendat refuses to allow his female players to sex up their brand, expecting them to represent sport as "the men" do. The men Bendat means are the Perth Wildcats, the NBL team he also owns.
“We want them to be powerful and strong women in society and as educated, professional women with a life after basketball," said Wildcats and Lynx Chief Executive, Nick Marvin.
Like their Wildcats' counterparts, each Perth Lynx player is given a a non-negotiable agreement to abide by this branding, and to exercise their social conscience through 300 hours of community service each year. For the Lynx players this includes projects such as regular Bandyup Women’s Prison visits.
"It’s amazing how quickly they have adapted to what we’re trying to do, they've taken it as a welcome change, assumed all the responsibility we've given them and done more than we've asked them to do," Marvin said.
“They are excited because they really are the pioneers of full-time women’s sport in Australia,” he said.
Yes, that's right - Perth Lynx players are all full-time. They earn an average annual salary of no less than $40,000, the same as their male colleagues under the NBL's minimum wage.
Bendat's purchase of the Perth Lynx last April helped Marvin achieve somewhat of a coup in the WNBL - a merger of the mens and womens teams. As a result, Bendat insisted the Lynx players access the same resources as the Wildcats. This includes the Western Force (men's Super Rugby team) gymnasium, physiotherapists, massage staff and training day meals. Study fees are also taken care of, but only if players pass.
Marvin admits the team's financial success lies solely with Bendat and his wife Eleanor. However, he is hopeful the tripled home game attendance and the Lynx players' off-court role modelling will soon attract more corporate sponsorship to achieve sustainability by 2018.
But Marvin is now more aware of the difficulties women's sport faced.
“If you take away tennis and a bit of women’s golf, it's actually hard to sustain,” Marvin said.
“But the needle is starting to turn with women’s cricket and soccer and hopefully with women’s basketball and our commitment is long-term.”
Getting early shots up at Townsville RSL Stadium! pic.twitter.com/X862e50oOD
— Perth Lynx (@PerthLynx) February 28, 2016
Lynx captain Tessa Lavey said the team was committed to inspiring others through living out the club's branding.
“You don’t often get a role model team you can look up to. I'm hopeful the people who come along and support us can see that image we’re hard-working and we’re dedicated and they want to be like us. You want to show you’re strong individuals and strong as a team," she said.
Born in 1993, a year after the Lynx won its last championship, Lavey says the team is also committed to play off success.
“Our girls are very hungry for this because it’s been a long time coming for the club. We just want to show how much we appreciate what the club has done for us and play hard. We could get this championship and we want to get this championship."