Does Australia need a Title IX equivalent?

We know participation and viewership of women’s sports are growing in Australia, but do we need to do more to make sure we’re building equitable, resource filled environments for our young girls to succeed? Does Australia need a Title IX equivalent?

After spending 8 years in America as both an athlete and a journalist, I learned a lot about US sporting culture. It was pretty early on during my time there when I realised why female sports in

America's college sports scene is growing faster and is more comprehensive than they are here in Australia. It’s the sole reason I moved to the states in the first place, more opportunities to play lacrosse at an elite Division 1 level, but most importantly to be trained and looked after by professionals every single day.

Title IX (Nine) is a comprehensive US federal law stating that any educational institution receiving government funding cannot discriminate on the basis of gender or sex. It’s been in place since 1972. College and high school sports were majorly impacted, it opened up opportunities for girls to play at the same level as their male peers.

It also forces schools to distribute athletic scholarship dollars equitably, meaning there has to be as many female scholarships given as there are male scholarships. So for those colleges/universities who have massive football programs, it’s balanced out by adding more women’s programs. This is where sports like women’s lacrosse and women’s soccer have thrived. The bigger roster sizes help equal out the numbers.

Looking a little deeper, like most systematic changes, Title IX has a much bigger impact. It opens doors for more girls to access higher education. The cost of college in America is daunting, and it’s not on the cards for many people. Athletic scholarships can be a gateway to a successful life, because being a part of a professional program fosters you into alumni networks that help you get jobs after school.

As well as the extra development that comes with being a college athlete, you’re immersed in a culture that’s building you up to succeed. Coaches use their alumni’s career and life success as a recruiting asset to reassure you that they’ll pour into you to reach success under their guidance too. Systematically, Australia structures sport differently. There’s not a huge university sporting culture and sports stem through local clubs before progressing to regional or state competition.

As a kid I knew I had better skills than most of the boys my age, a strong work ethic and a will to succeed - but I believed I needed to leave my country to reach my potential and be in an elite environment. As a coach of junior girls, I still encourage them to do the same. If the goal is to be elite, in comparison to America, our Australian sporting system doesn't offer all the resources athletes need to reach that. An athletic trainer and physio, mental health professionals, positional coaches, access to game film, strength and conditioning coaches, educational tutors - that’s what high school and college women are getting from their sporting endeavours in the US.

That’s why they’re dominating in countless sports on the world stage. They foster a winning culture and Title IX allowed girls and young women to be a part of that winning culture.