A national tennis program is being served up in Canberra to encourage more young women to take on leadership roles in their community.
The four-month program, Women Leaders in Tennis, aims to create leadership opportunities for over 18s and help build their knowledge, skills and confidence.
More than 160 women nationwide have participated in the program so far.
Women and Girls ACT project lead Alison Bai said she became involved in the program to help create more opportunities for women in tennis and the community.
“Women are under-represented in community leadership, with only about 26 per cent of club presidents being women,” she said.
“This is why we were initially targeting club presidents, coaches and committee members. Then once we started the momentum, we would move to other women doing great things in the community.
“This program is designed to support women so they can be heard in their community about the things they’re passionate about and so they can make a difference.
“Tennis Australia is committed to creating an equal voice and that voice can influence decision-making at any level, whether it’s in the community or on and off the court.”
Alison said the program began in Canberra in June with a face-to-face introductory session at East Hotel in Manuka.
“We started with a new group of ladies, some who knew each other and some who didn’t,” she said. “Then we went through what the program was about and some of the key learning aspects.
“From there, we had one online session a month, called a ‘power session’.
“The ladies also have modules and things to do in between sessions. Then we come together and discuss what they’ve found, how they found it, and if they need any help with it.”
A final face-to-face session on 16 October helped participants talk through what they had learned.
Alison said nine women took part in the program but it could accommodate up to 24 spots in future.
Alison said the program would return next year and continue over the next couple of years.
“We’re planning on running a networking event in January to help promote it and get a little bit more recognition,” she said.
“We really want to spread the word for women in these tennis communities who want to make a difference, and who can influence more people to get involved.”
Applications for the next intake close on 22 May, 2023.
“Our feedback on the tennis program so far has been great,” Alison said.
“From the first session, you can see these ladies want to make a difference in their community and are keen to learn how.
“Most are really engaged and enjoy the program, and are definitely looking forward to the final face-to-face session.”
Alison said tennis was a sport for life – and a sport for everybody.
“We’re working towards being inclusive to everybody in the community to play tennis,” she said.
“There are girls from as young as five to a lady who I know is 95 and still plays tennis. So it really is something you can play your entire life.
“It’s also great for your physical health, wellbeing and mental health.”
Tennis Australia Director of Government, Social Impact and Stakeholder Relations Vicki Reid said she was proud of the work being done.
“It is important women take on leadership roles to ensure women and girls have an equal voice and can influence decision-making at the community level,” Ms Reid said.
“Having more women in leadership positions helps create a welcoming, diverse, and inclusive environment for all, and will only make our tennis communities stronger.”
A grant provided by the Federal Government and Sport Australia aims to provide the opportunity for 1000 women and girls to participate in the Women Leaders in Tennis program by 2024.
To find out more and become involved with the program, visit Women Leaders in Tennis.