The Minerva Network’s work to support and empower women in sport was recognised by Queensland’s Governor in Brisbane this evening at an event featuring some of Queensland’s top elite women athletes.
Athletes, leading businesswomen who volunteer to be athlete mentors, sponsors and supporters gathered to reflect on the achievements of the organisation which supports more than 250 athletes from more than 50 sports by providing networking opportunities and 1:1 mentoring to help athletes maximise opportunities for themselves on and off the field.
Guests included Queensland sporting stars such as ultra-runner Jacqui Bell, AFLW player Sharni Webb, multi-medal winning swimmer Olympian Cate Campbell OAM OLY, Paralympian cyclist Paige Greco PLY, alongside Australia’s first female Paralympic taekwondo medallist Janine Watson PLY, four-time Olympian water polo player Bronwen Knox OLY, and wheelchair basketball player Ella Sabljak PLY.
Minerva Network Co-Founder, Christine McLoughlin AM said what began as an idea nearly five years ago has generated significant momentum to help athletes navigate their career while competing and prepare them to lead in their careers after they retire from sport.
“We are a uniquely independent place for elite female athletes to access networking, mentoring and other development opportunities, away from the clutter of their day-to-day team, sport, family, friends and fans. We want to help more athletes, with an aspirational target to reach 1,000 athletes by 2025,” said Ms McLoughlin.
Minerva Queensland Chapter Leader Dr Sarah Kelly OAM said stories of athletes overcoming adversity to achieve their goals is particularly poignant considering the adversity ahead for so many in the community as a result of recent flooding.
“We know sport has the power to inspire and we support this incredible group of women so they can reach their potential during and after their sporting careers to become leaders of influence in whatever they do. They are exceptional role models for the community and future leaders of Australia,” said Dr Kelly.
“Our purpose at Minerva is so well aligned with the broader ambitions for the State of Queensland to be the premium market for women’s sports, particularly with the Brisbane 2032 Olympic and Paralympic Games on the horizon.”
Minerva is powered by 180 mentors who volunteer their time to guide elite female athletes, using their vast experience in very senior roles across a range of business, not-for-profit and government sectors.
“Common to the athletes and mentors within the Minerva Network is a wicked combination of resilience and ambition and we all learn from each other. We are delighted to be recognised by Her Excellency the Governor The Honourable Dr Jeannette Young PSM and Professor Graeme Nimmo RFD and look forward to this event being a catalyst for further growth in Queensland,” said Ms McLoughlin.
Minerva athlete and four-time Olympic water polo player Bronwen Knox said the Minerva Network has allowed her to connect with other athletes from across all sports and to have support from that group.
“Aside from the networking and education events, the privilege of being matched and mentored by a successful industry leader has been a fantastic opportunity for me. I love being able to connect, throw out ideas and ask questions of my mentor to discover my path outside my sport. Unfortunately, not all of us can make a living out of our sport, so we need to continue to develop our professional careers in parallel to our sporting ones. Minerva Network has helped me do this,” said Ms Knox.
The Minerva Network was created by Christine McLoughlin AM and fellow businesswomen Romilly Madew AO, Sam Mostyn AO, Sue Cato AM and Kate Aitken.
Its board and State Chapter Leaders include Annette Wargon, Dr Sarah Kelly OAM (QLD), Ann Sherry AO (NSW), Peggy O’Neal AO and Kate Palmer AM (VIC), Christina Matthews (WA) and Lucille Baillie (ACT).
To register your interest in becoming a Minerva athlete, mentor or for any other enquiries, please contact us.
Here is the link to Her Excellency's speech on the occasion.