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Women in Sport Summit New Zealand 2019

Women deserve equal opportunity in sport and greater representation in audiences.

Women make up 51% of the population and hold the purchasing power in 72% of households. Yet many sports are unable to drive significant female participation, marketing messages do not speak to women, and women’s professional leagues are in their infancy.

Engaging more women and girls in sport is not just about equality, it’s about the health of the sport industry as a whole. It’s simple: More women in sport means a bigger industry.

You can do your part.

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  11 - 13 June 2019
Pullman Auckland


Key industry figures driving female engagement in sport


Two days of intensive keynotes, case studies and panel discussions


Interactive sessions focusing on the central issues facing clubs and codes


Grand Millennium Auckland
1 Mayoral Drive, Cnr Vincent St, Auckland 1010, New Zealand


  • Realise equality in professional sport
  • Drive growth by commercialising women’s sport
  • Cultivate female grassroots participation and engagement
  • Grow female audiences for all sport
  • Boost the female athletic talent pool
  • Address Sport New Zealand’s new board and media mandates

Who should attend this conference

100%Chief Executive Officer

99%GM High Performance

99%Head of Participation and Engagement

98%Marketing and Commercial Manager

97%Education Leaders

Get Ready To Be Inspired!

Scroll down for more info and the agenda
Easy online booking or call for further assistance

Key Speakers


Jennie Wyllie

Chief Executive Officer

Netball New Zealand


Tracy Atiga

Chief Executive Officer

Auckland Basketball


Dana Kirkpatrick

General Manager

Equestrian Sports New Zealand


Luisa Avaiki MNZM

Well-being & Women’s Development Manager

New Zealand Rugby League


Michael Scott

Chief Executive

High Performance Sport New Zealand


Nicole Spratt

Chief Executive Officer

Netball Northern


Joe Hitchcock

Chief Executive

Badminton New Zealand


Bronwyn KIei

General Manager

Adelaide Strikers


Marty Toomey

Chief Executive

Winter Games NZ


Suzanne McFadden




Jarrod Bear

Chief Executive Officer

Auckland Rugby


Claire Dallison

Conditioning Specialist: Basketball


Iain Laxon

Chief Executive Officer

Auckland Cricket


Prof Toni Bruce

Professor of Sociology of Sport

The University of Auckland


Steven Upfold

Chief Executive Officer

Auckland Football Federation


Fran Scholey

Chief Executive Officer

Netball Central


John Brimble

Chief Executive Officer

Sport Otago


Anna Gestro

GM Audience & Growth

New Zealand Cricket


Chris Wilson

Chief Executive Officer

New Zealand Water Polo


Rebecca Annan

Business Development Manager

Netball New Zealand


Jez Curwin

Chief Executive Officer

Canterbury Cricket


Lori McDaniel

Community Coach and Women’s Development Manager

Canterbury Basketball Association


Tony Smail

Chief Executive Officer

Canterbury Rugby Football Union


Sarah Cowley Ross

Olympian, Sports Presenter, Writer, Physiotherapist, Columnist and Commentator


Rohan West

Chief Executive Officer

Netball Waikato Bay of Plenty


John Limna

Chief Executive Officer

Northern Football Federation


Justin Ludlow

General Manager

Otago Basketball


Julian Bowden

Chief Executive Officer

Mainland Football

  • SUMMIT AGENDA:  DAY 1 – 11 June 2019

    Chair: Sarah Cowley Ross, Olympian, Sports Presenter, Writer, Physiotherapist, Columnist and Commentator

    Leadership and Strategy


    9:00am: KEYNOTE: Levelling the playing field: Pushing equality further with sport

    • Ensuring women are involved in all aspects of sport from boardroom to sports ground
    • How women in sport add financial value to all codes
    • Applying business transformation principles to the sporting arena
    • What is the model of best practice in leading diversity?

    Jennie Wyllie, Chief Executive Officer, Netball New Zealand


    9:50am: PANEL DISCUSSION: How do we realise true equality in sport?

    • Towards 50/50: What can we learn from each other?
    • How will board diversity mandates effect sports organisations?
    • What are the metrics of success?
      • Audience numbers?
      • Financial gain?
      • Grassroots participation?
    • How can we ensure fair representation of differing or developing talent pools?
    • What can we do now to realise the vision?

    Nicole Spratt, Chief Executive Officer, Netball Northern

    Joe Hitchcock, Chief Executive, Badminton New Zealand

    Marty Toomey, Chief Executive, Winter Games NZ

    Julian Bowden, Chief Executive Officer, Mainland Football

    John Brimble, Chief Executive Officer, Sport Otago


    10:40am: Morning tea


    Marketing and Audiences

    11:00am: PANEL DISCUSSION: Growing and retaining female audiences

    • How can social media engage new fans and boost gameday attendance?
    • What are some strategies to activate a wider audience without alienating loyal male or female fans?
    • Can we attract bigger and broader crowds by cultivating family friendly gamedays?
    • How are we leveraging public interest in the women’s game to maximise audience growth?

    Anna Gestro, GM Audience & Growth, New Zealand Cricket

    Jeremy Curwin, Chief Executive Officer, Canterbury Cricket Association

    Justin Ludlow, General Manager, Otago Basketball

    Tony Smail, Chief Executive Officer, Canterbury Rugby Football Union


    11:50am: CASE STUDY: How do we position our women’s team?

    • What is the best model for promoting both a women’s and men’s elite team?
    • How can we increase the female supporter base for both men’s and women’s sport?
    • How does sponsorship affect the amount of exposure each team receives?
    • Do we promote our sport differently to engage a wider female audience?

    Tracy Atiga, Chief Executive Officer, Auckland Basketball



    12:40 pm Lunch


    1:40pm: CASE STUDY: Driving change in the portrayal of female athletes in the media

    • How media audits can facilitate fair representation of female athletes
    • What content do media outlets need to mix women’s sport into the mainstream?
    • Leveraging the star power and personality of individual athletes to boost media exposure

    Prof Toni Bruce, Professor of Sociology of Sport, The University of Auckland


    2:30pm: PANEL DISCUSSION: How can we help female athletes in the media?

    • Why do media outlets portray female athletes as mothers, wives and daughters?
    • Which areas of women’s sport deserve more coverage?
    • How can changes in representation drive commercialisation and sponsorship?
    • How will improving media representation influence women and girls’ participation?
    • How will media audits change the way female athletes are portrayed?

    Suzanne McFadden, Editor, LockerRoom

    Prof Toni Bruce, Professor of Sociology of Sport, The University of Auckland




    3:20pm Afternoon tea


    3:40pm: PANEL DISCUSSION: Making women’s sport good business

    • What is the most successful model for commercialising women’s sport?
    • What can different codes learn from each other?
    • How are audiences consuming women’s sport?
      • Participation
      • Attendance
      • Merchandise
      • Media
    • Are brands looking at women’s sport differently?

    Fran Scholey, Chief Executive Officer, Netball Central

    Shannon Paku, Chief Executive Officer, Manawatu Rugby

    Brigit Hearn, Chief Executive Officer, Netball Mainland


    4:30pm: CASE STUDY: Commercialising women’s sport

    • Capitalising on the growing interest in women’s leagues
    • Engaging decision-makers with a sound business case
    • Making money with money: Optimising reinvestment through capital gain
    • Leveraging sponsorship to grow your target market

    Rebecca Annan, Business Development Manager, Netball New Zealand



    5:20pm: End of day one & networking drinks

  • SUMMIT AGENDA: DAY 2 – 12 June 2019

    Chair: Sarah Cowley Ross, Olympian, Sports Presenter, Writer, Physiotherapist, Columnist and Commentator


    Participation and Pathways


    9:00am: CASE STUDY: Lessons from the Canteen to the Boardroom

    • Carving out a career in the male dominated sports industry
    • Lessons in management from local netball to professional cricket
    • Building confidence in yourself and your team

    Bronwyn Klei, General Manager, Adelaide Strikers


    9:50am: CASE STUDY: Cultivating female athletic talent

    • Maximising participation by ensuring suitable facilities for children of different sexes
    • Carving out junior to elite player pathways and demonstrating their stages
    • Strategically funding pathways and maintaining a level of service to support them

    Luisa Avaiki MNZM, Well-being & Women’s Development Manager, New Zealand Rugby League


    10:40am: Morning tea


    11:00am: PANEL DISCUSSION: How do we better engage women and girls in sport?

    • What are the strategies for retaining female participation through the teenage years?
    • How far should non-contact versions of a sport go? Can it detract from the main game?
    • How do we make individual sports less intimidating for teens?
    • Have social sports events had a measurable impact on participation?


    Dana Kirkpatrick, General Manager, Equestrian Sports New Zealand

    Lori McDaniel, Community Coach and Women’s Development Manager, Canterbury Basketball Association

    Jarrod Bear, Chief Executive Officer, Auckland Rugby

    Rohan West, Chief Executive Officer, Netball Waikato Bay of Plenty

    Iain Laxon, Chief Executive Officer, Auckland Cricket


    11:50am: CASE STUDY: The challenges of driving participation for traditionally male-dominated sport

    • Making male-dominated sport more attractive for female players
    • Facilitating the growth of women in coaching and officiating roles
    • Cultivating opportunities for women at governance level in clubs

    John Limna, Chief Executive Officer, Northern Football Federation


    12:40 pm Lunch


    High Performance

    1:40pm: CASE STUDY: Developing women in high-performance roles

    • Ensuring a sustainable talent pool by implementing clear high-performance pathways
    • Demonstrating high performance career pathways to women and girls
    • Upskilling current female high-performance staff
    • Extending the reach of high-performance pathways to regional areas

    Michael Scott, Chief Executive, High Performance Sport New Zealand


    2:30pm: CASE STUDY: Carving out a coaching career in a male dominated industry

    • Capitalising on opportunities to break into a male-dominated career
    • Challenges and advantages facing women working with male athletes
    • Advice for women pursuing a career in high-performance sport

    Claire Dallison, Conditioning Specialist: Basketball, Tall Blacks/NZ Breakers


    3:20pm Afternoon tea

    3:40pm: CASE STUDY: Engaging broader communities with modified sports

    • Why facilities-based sports need to find ways to promote casual community sport
    • Giving participants what they want to drive engagement with your sport
    • Engaging a broader skill levels, communities and age groups with modified sports

    Chris Wilson, Chief Executive Officer, New Zealand Water Polo


    4:30pm: CASE STUDY: Optimising coaching for women and girls

    • Navigating the difference between coaching female and male players
    • Key mental, social and physical differences to take into account
    • Educating staff on how to optimise coaching of female teams

    Steven Upfold, Chief Executive Officer, Auckland Football Federation


    5:20pm: End of conference

  • Day Three – Post-Conference Workshops – 13 June 2019

    Workshop A: 9:00am – 12.30pm:

    Finding the perfect directors for your organisation’s board

    Board diversity is now a crucial issue for New Zealand sports organisations, many of which still have 100% male board representation. If you do not meet the new diversity requirements your organisation’s funding may be cut. Not only will recruiting appropriate and experienced female board members bring your organisation into 2019, but it will also influence your organisation’s commitment to engaging more women and girls and ultimately growing and thriving into the future. This workshop will take you through the steps of how to find and recruit the perfect new board members for your organisation.


    This workshop will cover:

    • Where to look for suitable directors
    • Making an attractive offer to potential candidates
    • Strategically recruiting board members to grow your organisations network and business
    • What to expect when on-boarding new faces
    • Change management of existing board members and stakeholders
    • Ensuring organisation-wide buy-in for change


    Workshop Facilitator: TBA


    Workshop B: 1:30pm – 5:00pm:

    Growing your team, code and competition by engaging sponsors and partners

    The biggest challenge facing women’s sport is profitability. While it is vital that codes and clubs launch women’s leagues and teams to drive equality and grow markets, financial viability is essential to their survival. The most successful model for commercialising women’s sport is through sponsored partnerships. This workshop will show you how to determine, pitch and secure potential sponsors to ensure the sustainability of your organisation.


    This workshop will cover:

    • How to determine the right sponsors based on your organisations values and ambitions
    • Leveraging existing sponsors to build you organisation’s commercial profile
    • Sustaining strong relationships with sponsors
    • Understanding and promoting the different elements of your organisation and activities that sponsors can benefit from
    • Getting buy in and input from all areas of the organisation
    • Making use of human resources to activate sponsorships and provide value to sponsors
    • Looking beyond the standard transactions toward benefits in: Staff development and wellbeing, leadership development, community and social impact focus
    • Exploring the exchange of value on both sides beyond the obvious: Operations, running costs, staff training, member benefits and more


    Workshop Facilitator: Vickie Saunders, Founder, The Sponsorship Consultants


    By her own admission, Vickie Saunders is completely obsessed with teaching others how to connect with opportunity. Coming in from left field, with a background of corporate marketing and bid writing, Vickie is fast becoming the world’s leading expert in athlete sponsorship education, and loves working with athletes you’ve never heard of right through to household brands and global organisations. Officially based in Brisbane, Australia, but rarely there, Vickie spends much of her time travelling the world to work with her clients, contributing to an improved sponsorship landscape, globally, and at all levels.


View our complete training course range.

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