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Breaking down barriers for an equal playing field

08 March 2024

When Dr Aish Ravi started coaching, she looked around the room and thought, "where are the women?"

Aish Ravi in her role as state team coach for Victoria standing on a football field holding a soccer ball
Dr Aish Ravi in her role as state team coach for Victoria.

That realisation set her on a trail-blazing path to accelerate gender equality and make sport a more diverse and inclusive place.

“We can’t have a one size fits all model, which is copy and pasted from the men’s program,” Ravi said.

“Women have different needs, wants and motives to enter sport, in order for them to succeed we need to cater for that.”

This International Women’s Day, Ravi wants to call out a longstanding myth – that there are no women leaders in sport. It is an issue she tackled in her PhD.

“There are amazing women out there who are passionate and brilliant about sport, but there are a lot of barriers we have to break down to make it an equal playing field.”

A longtime football coach and avid cricket and AFL player, Ravi founded the Women’s Coaching Association to advocate, support and connect women in this profession.

She says one of the biggest barriers is credibility and respect, adding the hurdles are even greater for women from culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds.

“When it comes to coaching, it’s hard as a young girl to aspire to be that if you can’t see yourself there.

“If there is no pathway for women to these positions, we lose them to the game as a whole, and it’s a real tragedy.”

Ravi has had an extensive coaching career, which she views as a great responsibility and honour.

“There is nothing more rewarding than working with a group of players and helping them achieve their best.”

She also worked with the Australian Sports Commission to develop the community coaching courses.

“The modern approach to coaching is a great resource and tool for all coaches to complete.

“When people feel safe and comfortable to be themselves, they're more likely to stay in these environments and succeed.”

Looking to the future, Ravi hopes in a decade there will be a healthy pipeline of women coaches at all levels, from community to elite sporting environments.

“Women won’t be the odd one out, they will be the norm.”

Interested in learning how to create fun, safe and inclusive environments for participants? Sign up for the Community Coaching – Essential Skills Course here.

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