A Brief History of Women’s Sports in Australia

During the first Olympic Games in Athens, Greece, the inclusion of women was considered “impractical, uninteresting, un-aesthetic, and incorrect.” Today’s women in sports in Australia and different parts of the world no longer experience this kind of discrimination. They are enjoying many rights and benefits that women many years ago did not.

When it started

It was during colonial times when women were finally allowed to participate in sports. However, their options were limited to sports that did not challenge the gender stereotype. Popular women’s sports in Australia during those times included croquet and lawn bowls. They also faced different restrictions on how, where, and when they could take part in games, whether as competitors or just for fun.

Integration into the school curriculum

By the 1880s, schools in Victoria started offering sports for girls by integrating them into their physical education courses. What sports were taught and how they were taught them to girls were patterned after the British sporting and educational tradition.

The first women’s sporting contests

Around the same time, several events and contests for women in sports in Australia took place. This included the first bicycling race in the world which was held in Ashfield, New South Wales and the Australian Ladies Championship in Geelong in Victoria. There was also the first golf championship that was open to both male and female participants. Later on, more sports such as fencing started accepting women in competitions.

The first female-only sporting groups

Women’s sports in Australia become more mainstream at the beginning of the 1900s. The shift of the public’s perspective can be attributed to the creation of female-only sporting groups. Among the first ones in the country was the Victorian Ladies’ Bowling Association, which was established in 1907, the Australian Women’s Hockey Association in 1910, and the Australian Women’s Rowing Council in 1920. Even during the Second World War, women’s sports in the country remained intact and even thrived. They continued to hold competitions undisturbed by the war.

The amalgamation of men and women sports associations

One of the biggest changes in the history of Australian sports happened in 1977 due to the amalgamation of male and female-only sports clubs. After the merge, it was then called the Australian Athletic Union.

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