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The pandemic of COVID-19 is, without a doubt, one of the toughest challenges communities and industries throughout the world have faced in recent times.
Social restrictions and the subsequent pause on our normal daily functions have caused uncertainty, anxiety and chaos for many. In the world of sport, the dreams and aspirations of athletes have largely been put on hold. Never before has the absence of sport been so greatly felt.
Only a few months ago in March, the Australian Women’s Cricket team won the ICCT20 World Cup at the MCG. Our Minerva Stars, including the extraordinary Alyssa Healy and Rachel Haynes, had us all cheering them on in front of a record-breaking crowd of 86,174, the highest attendance at a women’s sporting event in Australia.
Days like this will hopefully return soon as we start to see the return of community and professional sport including Suncorp Super Netball on 1 August, NRLW and Women’s International Cricket series from September, and WNBL on 20 November.
With the world’s biggest sporting event, the 2020 Tokyo Olympics, postponed to 2021, athletes have been asked to join the Australian Olympic Team’s #OlympicDayGoals challenge and set themselves a goal to learn a new skill by 23 June (on Olympic Day).
Alyce Wood is one of many athletes accepting the challenge and her goal is to play (and potentially sing) a full song on the Ukulele. Cate Campbell hopes to master Japanese Calligraphy. Cat McArthur hopes to handstand walk for 10 steps in a straight line. This is a wonderful initiative for athletes to support and encourage each other in the absence of a significant event in their sporting careers.
Innovation is a key driver to growth and putting care at the centre of everything we do is vital in a crisis. For these very reasons the Minerva Network, which has established a strong national footprint, has taken to providing virtual guidance and support to our Minerva Stars right across Australia during these unprecedented times.
The Minerva Network teamed up with an incredible line-up of inspiring speakers who volunteered their time to help us deliver ground-breaking virtual workshops to more than 120 athletes. These workshops not only provided our Minerva Stars a nurturing space to socially connect with women across various sports, but reminded them that the qualities that have made them successful on the field – resilience, strength and persistence – are the very qualities that will help them rise above the current challenges and beyond.
Our Minerva workshops created a safe zone for our Minerva Stars to have honest discussions about vulnerabilities, the importance of self-compassion, the need to lean on each other and the importance of preparing for life outside of their sport. They were an extension to the words of encouragement and mental health check-ins via phone and emails from our Mentors during isolation.
In that process we’ve supported our Minerva Stars to re-focus and re-adjust. They’ve been nimble and creative. They have re-focussed their energies to spread goodwill, humour and pro-actively support others through virtual training sessions, remembering to use their powerful voices to inspire and connect with their communities online, and using their off-the-field skills to get them and through these trying times.
We ask athletes to give the very best of themselves, to achieve at the highest level, and while these goals were largely “put on ice” for a while, they’ve proven how resilient they can really be and just how important it is to have a supportive network, like Minerva, to help them soar in times of need.
It’s thanks to the commitment of our Co-Founders, Mentors, Volunteers and the generous contribution of our major supporter Accenture and other supporting organisations that we have been able to positively impact so many women athletes over the last three years.
The journey for the Minerva Network continues. What we have achieved so far is a small sample of our full potential and vision.
We want to continue to be financially sustainable and invest in our women athletes to help them lead and achieve their dreams. But we need funding to enable us to continue to provide our pro bono mentoring and workshop initiatives to these leading athletes – our Minerva Stars.
Whilst our long-term goal is to engage with additional corporate sponsors, in the short-term we need your support. If you can, please make a modest tax deductible contribution towards our fundraising project or submit corporate partnership introductions to help us continue our mission.
Together, we can make the future brighter for women athletes throughout Australia.
Chairman and Co-Founder Minerva Network