26 May 2015

WomenCANPlay to boost female sports participation in Canberra

| Amy M
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Billi, Kate, Hannah

Billi McCarthy-Price and Hannah Massingham have received a YWCA Great Ydeas grant to develop a website, WomenCANPlay, to increase local women’s participation in sport.

When Billi McCarthy-Price (pictured above, left) moved to Canberra to start a graduate job in the public service earlier this year, she had difficulty finding a new sporting team to join.

“I didn’t really know anyone in Canberra, the people I sent emails to didn’t reply and there wasn’t that much information available in terms of when seasons started or who to contact,” she says.

She eventually started playing basketball with work colleague Hannah Massingham (pictured above, right), and the two realised there was a need for a website that provided up-to-date information on sporting opportunities available for women.

“We thought, if this was an issue that we’d both had, there are so many people who move to Canberra every year that probably also have the same problem,” Hannah says.

The pair decided to apply for the YWCA grant after learning about the concept from colleague and 2014 YWCA Great Ydeas grant recipient Hannah Wandel, who used the funding to start Country to Canberra, a program that gives country girls opportunities to motivate leadership potential.

“We were inspired by what Hannah [Wandel] was able to do because of the grant. We had a brainstorming session and thought that wow, we really could turn our idea into something,” Hannah says.

They applied for funding to develop WomenCANPlay, a web project and community network that attempts to increase female sports participation by:

  • Providing information on the opportunities available for sports participation, including up-to-date contact details
  • Connecting young women with a welcoming network of sportswomen
  • Helping their participation through scholarship opportunities
  • Increasing the understanding of contributing factors to low sport participation through research.

And while one aspect of the website is to make it easier to find a team or club to join, WomenCANPlay also aims to breakdown some of the barriers to women playing sport.

“A lot of the time women don’t play sport because they don’t know what sports are out there, or they don’t have the confidence to get involved. They think they’re not coordinated, or they’re not fit enough, but there are lots of sports out there and we want this platform to help women find the one for them,” Hannah says.

While the grant funding will allow Hannah and Billi to develop a professional and functional website, Hannah says that it’s not just the cash that is valuable

“For us, it wasn’t just about the grant funding. We also need the YWCA’s expertise, their networks and advice on how to get a project like this up and running,” she says.

YWCA Canberra’s Great Ydeas Small Grants Program provides funds to local women and girls to pursue a professional development opportunity, pilot a project, business idea, or address a need in the community.

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