Celebrating great Women – A letter from our General Manager

March 8, 2021 | Townsville Fire news

When watching the Australian Open with my 14 year old son recently, he asked why Naomi Osaka was referred to as the greatest female athlete when crowned Champion, yet Novak Djokovic was referred to the greatest athlete, with no reference to his gender. It sums up the gender inequality which still exists today in most codes of professional sport, and basketball is no different. It also was a proud parenting moment for me, highlighting, the more boys raised to notice this, the more advocates we will have to continue to make the change.

Rather than discuss the how and why this happens, I would like to draw inspiration from this year’s theme for International Women’s Day, ‘Choose to Challenge’, and focus on how we support, promote and showcase the amazing talents of female athletes.

The Townsville Fire is, and continues to be, a powerhouse in sport, I am awe of the women in our team, how hard they work, how talented they are and what incredible female role models they are both on and off the court. You can’t be what you can’t see, The Townsville Fire provide the opportunity for the community to witness the very best healthy female role models. They provide the opportunity for young girls across Northern Australia, to be what they can see.

We are the most successful professional sporting team in Northern Australia of the past decade with three Championships, and named WNBLs team of the decade in 2019. We were grand finalists in the 2020 season and received significant recognition in the WNBL awards, including Coach of the Year, Sixth Women of the Year, Youth Player of the Year, and featured in the All-Star 5 team and All-Star second team

There is a misconception that our athletes are ‘part time’, and this is simply not the case. Our athletes are professional, they are dedicated, and they are the most elite in the country at what they do, with three of our 10 contracted players currently named in the Opals squad ahead of this year’s Tokyo Olympics.

What do I hope for in the near future in regards to equality in our sport? (I have a list…. ) but one I feel we can achieve quickly is the ability for us to no longer compare ourselves to our male counterparts, We are the WNBL and we provide an extremely high level of entertainment, skill and excitement. We need to ensure that the game continues to grow through strategic planning to capitalise on last year’s record breaking broadcast numbers. To keep this going and growing we need to ensure that we continue the commercial support of the game and focus on the experience we deliver back to both our fans and stakeholders. Visibility is key, i encourage you to attend a game of women’s professional sport, I bet you soon become a fan.

The Townsville Fire Board and staff, past and present, have been instrumental in steering this growth, benefiting from the expertise of some of the strongest and successful business women in Townsville. And to them, I say thank you.

I think it also important take time today to acknowledge the men who continue to support the Townsville Fire and support strong, healthy female role models. We have an exceptional male head coach, Shannon Seebohm, assistant coaches, and support staff who give their all to bring out the best from our players. Our Board includes a male Deputy Chair and two board directors who share their time and expertise, a plethora of male dominated businesses that sponsor our team, and over 45% of our fan base is male. They work alongside us to celebrate the achievements of the Townsville Fire on and off the court, not just because they believe in gender equality, but because our athletes have earned it.

Sam Pascoe

General Manager

Townsville Fire