Former Australian cricketer and Executive General Manager of Community Cricket at Cricket Australia, Belinda Clark and Arijana Demirovic, head of FIFA’s Women Football Development, discussed the various hindrances and challenges ahead of the women’s sport in a one-hour chat session moderated by former Aussie cricketer turned commentator Mel Jones.

The two talked about infrastructure and environment which would be required to encourage women in sports and felt that the upcoming period was going to be crucial, especially after unprecedented successes of FIFA Women’s World Cup 2019 in France and the ICC Women’s T20 World Cup 2020 in Australia.

Clark, the first cricketer ever to register a double hundred in ODIs, highlighted the importance of continuing the good work.

“The biggest challenge is protecting the progress that we have made and not taking it for granted that the next steps will just flow without a similar amount of effort and attention. Whilst financial belts are being tightened across the world with what we are experiencing at the moment, it is easy to include inclusion as a concept, females playing sports is part of that, but it is really easy for us to go backwards,” Clarke said.

“I think it will be really important that we protect our investment, that we stay on the path, that we don’t become a ‘nice to have’. It is critical that it is a ‘must have’ and it is demonstrated that when you do it over a period of time, you do see results,” she added.

Demirovic added that the coronavirus pandemic was not the only impediment for women’s sport at the moment.

“Sustainability of the sport, especially now, facing the situation of Covid-19, somehow interrupted the momentum we had from the FIFA Women’s World Cup 2019… of so many eyes on the sport, so much investment, so much interest… that we have to be wary and address it,” she said.

“Of course this is not just in terms of the economic impact it had, but also what does it mean in terms of different cultures, and how we address some of the challenges we had even before Covid-19, and manage perceptions of women’s sports in some of the regions that are still struggling with this,” she added.

Meanwhile, Mel Jones also expressed her views on the same.

“It has been wonderful interacting with all our webinar guests and discussing a variety of topics. The webinars were thought provoking and many new ideas discussed during these sessions. It was an education for me in many ways and I am sure it would be the same for those who watched,” Jones said.

“As a former cricketer, it has been fascinating following the progress of women’s cricket. It is crucial that this momentum is not only maintained in the coming times but continues to push new boundaries so that women’s cricket continues to grow across the world,” she added.