‘Change the Game’ panel dissects progress of women’s leadership in sport

A lack of representation for women in sport and leadership roles wasn’t going to stop Carmelina Moscato.

The former Canadian national soccer team star and Olympic bronze medallist has led the charge to build the professional game for Canadian women.

Among many leadership roles within Canada Soccer, Moscato serves as commissioner of the League1 Ontario Women’s Division and aims to be responsible for creating pro opportunities for female players within the league.

“I never felt intimidated by the opportunities and I always felt there was something to prove,” said Moscato, who joined the ‘Change the Game’ panel hosted by CBC Sports’ Andi Petrillo. “To show I definitely can and women can.

“If somebody is talking about soccer in the men’s game, it’s soccer and you’re not going to outsmart me in that. This has to normalize, [women] can’t be the minority in a room.”

WATCH | Panel discusses importance of women’s leadership in sport:

CBC Sports’ Andi Petrillo is joined by Canadian athletes of all levels to discuss why we need to Change the Game. 57:31

Canadian national soccer team member Desiree Scott, Canadian Olympic track and field athlete Khamica Bingham, and play-by-play broadcaster Meghan McPeak completed the panel group discussing supportive leadership in sport for women.

ESPN analyst Doris Burke made history this summer becoming the first woman to call NBA conference finals and NBA finals games.

Although another milestone was made for professional women in sport this year, McPeak believes that shouldn’t be the case.

“It’s 2020, we should not be making firsts,” said McPeak, who calls games for both the WNBA’s Washington Mystics and the Capital City Gogo, the G League affiliate of the Washington Wizards.

“Knowing my job and what I do with the NBA umbrella, we still don’t have a full-time female play-by-play announcer, which is crazy to me.”

Elevating women into leadership roles

For Scott, a two-time soccer bronze medallist, awareness is a key issue for promoting current athletes into leadership roles.

“We need to educate more on what’s available,” Scott said. “We’re just as capable of filling those roles and just as passionate. It’s about encouragement and the knowledge of seeing it.

“You start to think about the potential for you as a woman.”

Only 28 per cent of women fill athletic director roles in post-secondary institutions in Canada. At the U Sports level, just three per cent of women have coaching roles on the men’s side as compared to 26 per cent on the women’s.

‘It also falls on media coverage’

Bingham, who represented Canada in track and field at the Rio 2016 Games, believes having a larger number of women in leadership roles affects more than just today’s current generation of athlete.

“I think if we have more women in positions of power you get different perspectives,” Bingham said. “You’re going to have a lot more athletes who are more comfortable and happy in an environment, who are going to stay there.

“We can increase the participation for female athletes.”

The 26-year-old believes increased media attention on women’s athletics could be consequential in achieving balance.

“It also falls on media coverage — we need more coverage in women’s sports,” the sprinter said. “In track and field we’re so quick to know who the fastest man in the world is. When it comes to the female side it isn’t the same. If we have more people understand our stories and be role models to young girls, it could make a difference.”

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