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2024 International Women's Day: Finding Empowerment and Purpose in Sport


On this International Women's Day, we're celebrating all the incredible women who find strength, resilience, purpose, belonging and empowerment through their passions. Among these women is one our members, Lou, who discovered her true calling in dragon boating. She shares her story with us below.


"After overcoming a life-altering, near-fatal motor vehicle accident, I focused my energy on regaining my ability to walk and my physical strength and balance. I moved to the Rhodes foreshore area, and that decision would go on to transform my life in a way I never imagined.


During a time when community restrictions were easing post-pandemic, I stumbled upon a street-side banner advertising a dragon boat come-and-try event. I've always felt a connection to the water, loved swimming and loved water views. Intrigued, I decided to take the plunge.


The dragon boat community welcomed me with open arms, and I immediately felt a sense of belonging. It’s not always easy for adults to make trusted friendships and so inclusiveness is really important, particularly in sport. Guided by a supportive buddy and a coach who believed in the power of team spirit, I committed myself to training four times a week. Each session pushed my limits and fostered a strong sense of camaraderie, especially with the women’s crew, as we worked together to get stronger.



As I delved deeper into the sport, I embraced the buzz of racing. The night before my first regatta I quickly learnt that it wasn’t just about one race - I was in SIX races and to my surprise, was also listed as a drummer! I was enormously grateful to the other senior paddlers for sharing YouTube clips on how to drum. The collective determination to succeed, the synchronised paddling, and the adrenaline rush of racing, filled me with a mix of nerves and excitement. The moments before the race, when the air was charged with anticipation and the water rippled with energy, became my favourite part of the competition.


When I first joined the sport, my mind was full of limiting beliefs - one being that I was not good enough to race. But after years and years as a softball Mum, I now had my own sense of belonging to a team, and a supportive community who always reflected the coaches only expectation, “Do your best and have a go”.



This season our club leadership and coaches encouraged many to trial for representative crews, so I decided to give it a go. My dedication and hard work paid off as I was selected to represent the Sydney Metro team. I was unsuccessful for the NSW state team, however, I embraced the opportunity to train with the squad, and this has give me insights into the expectations and benchmarks needed to compete at this level. The camaraderie and shared passion for the sport forged new friendships and a sense of unity.



On top of this, one thing I never thought I'd be capable of doing was sweeping the boat, however I stuck to the coaches advice and with a slow and steady approach, I'm now working up hours towards this new skill of sweeping the boat!


With this newfound confidence and determination, I've now set my sights on the next challenges ahead for the Senior B crew - competing in the NSW State Championships, the Australian National Championships, and the International World Club Crew Championships in Italy. I'm excited to see what the coming months and seasons bring - the friendships forged have been great.


 

On this International Women's Day, let's celebrate all the inspiring women like Lou, who have found empowerment, joy, purpose and camaraderie through sports like dragon boating. Let's show gratitude for our female friendships, be proud of our inspiring female leaders, and treasure all the incredible women in our lives. Let's continue to support and uplift each other, embrace the power of team spirit, and strive for inclusivity and unity in all aspects of life.


Happy International Women's Day!





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