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SACA promises to honour women at Adelaide Oval

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Former Australian cricket captain Ian Chappell has joined the growing call for women to be recognised at the revamped Adelaide Oval, as the SA Cricket Association promised women would be honoured “in the future”.

The refurbished oval was officially opened on Saturday but, as highlighted by Angela Pippos earlier this week, not a single woman was honoured in the naming of the new oval’s stands, gates, bars, decks, terraces and rooms.

The SACA said women’s cricket had “a long and proud history” in the state. This was recognised at the Showdown when the captain and vice-captain of the South Australian women’s side, the Scorpions, Lauren Ebsary and Rhianna Peate, took part in the on-ground official ceremony.

“SACA has not yet completed naming all of its facilities at Adelaide Oval, however can confirm that women cricketers will definitely be honoured,” said chief executive Keith Bradshaw.

“SACA has already been in discussions with past and present representatives of SA women’s cricket and we are already in the process of having these recognised at Adelaide Oval prior to the start of the next cricket season.”

Ian Chappell is honoured by the Chappell Stand at the ground, which also recognises his cricketing brothers Greg and Trevor.

Ian said the growing popularity of women’s cricket, and the closer connection between the men’s and women’s side – especially in the Twenty20 arena – meant that “the time is right for recognition”.

“I think it’s a fair argument,” he told The New Daily. “Seeing as the Adelaide Oval has been brought up to date – and they have done a terrific job – it should reflect the modern face of cricket, which is more inclusive of women. I think new stadiums should recognise that.

He said this would send a message to the increasing number of women and girls attending matches that “we’ve played our part in the game as well”.

Chappell, considered by many the greatest Australian Test captain, agreed with Pippos that South Australians Karen Rolton, who captained Australia in the 2000s, and Faith Thomas, who in 1958 became the first indigenous person selected to play for a national side, were worthy of recognition. “They are the two that stand out,” he said.

Chappell added that he believed the push for recognition of women was far from a lost cause: “I’d be surprised if a bit of badgering doesn’t bring a positive response.”

This week’s story struck a chord with readers, with some describing the snub as “disgraceful” and “appalling”.

The unveiling of a statue of great SA footballer Barrie Robran at Adelaide Oval.

The unveiling of a statue of great SA footballer Barrie Robran at Adelaide Oval.

Kate Ellis, former sports minister and now the opposition spokeswoman for education, said female athletes were trapped in a “vicious cycle”.

“The naming of the stands at Adelaide Oval is just a symptom of a much broader issue – and that is the lack of respect and profile given to women’s sport,” Ellis told The New Daily.

“If we want to tackle this we should focus on the heart of the issue and that is the need to increase the investment, exposure and value we place on women’s sport.”

“Our female athletes are trapped in a vicious cycle of underfunding, under exposure and under appreciation.

“This needs to be changed but it will take more than a name on a stand to do so.”

Jenny Williams, the sister of former Port Adelaide coach Mark Williams and whose father Fos is honoured at the redeveloped ground, said the lack of female representation was “blatant discrimination” and that she has done her utmost to get female athletes honoured.

“I’ve given up – I’ve put hours and hours of effort trying to get them to do basically the right thing but if they don’t care it won’t happen,” Williams told The New Daily.

The bronze statues outside the ground were funded by South Australian philanthropist Basil Sellers, and Williams pondered whether she could get women recognised if she was able to pay for the sculptures herself.

“If only I was a millionaire I’d go and buy three statues. I just wonder if the money was donated if they would put them up,” she said.

YWCA CEO Liz Forsyth said the new Oval should be a more inclusive space for the state’s young women.

“This is a [multi-million dollar] investment in community space that hasn’t recognised or shaped women in any form,” she said.

“All we’ve done is create something for men.

“We need to have women’s achievement depicted for the young women coming through so they know that sport isn’t just men’s success.

“It’s not just a male gladiatorial space, it’s a space for the community.”

South Australian Football Commission chairman and former state premier John Olsen said the process in selecting those honoured had been long and exhaustive.

Olsen said the way remained open for other greats to be honoured in the future.

“With Adelaide Oval becoming the new home of football in South Australia, we will always continue to look at opportunities when and where they come up.”

This article was first published at The New Daily.

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