A new name is being proposed for the Basin Reserve, with a strong push for the iconic Wellington cricket ground to be renamed ‘Support Women’s Sport Basin Reserve’.

The name has been tabled, and Olympians Sarah Cowley Ross and Chantal Brunner – along with several organisations – are pushing for the name change.

The group behind the move are about to launch a crowd-funding campaign to raise around $100,000 to secure the naming rights for two years. And they plan to raise it in the next 17 days.

Cowley Ross, a regular writer on women’s sport for LockerRoom, says to have a name like ‘Support Women’s Sport Basin Reserve’ is bold.

“To have change, you need bold action,” she says. “It’s more than just raising the profile of sport for women.”

The goal is to highlight inequalities within sport and the coverage of women in sport in the media.

Cowley Ross says about only 10 percent of media coverage was dedicated to women in sport; female athletes were more likely to be photographed with a partner or coach; and there was usually more focus on an athlete’s life, rather than their athletic ability.

“It’s about what are we providing for our young girls in the future – girls and boys – for them to see strong female role models. Why do we need to do that? We can’t be what we can’t see,” she says.

The group launching the crowd-funding campaign to secure the naming rights includes advertising agency 81, Dot Loves Data, and the New Zealand Olympic Committee’s Sport Leadership Academy. 

Spokesperson Jason Wells says the site will go live later today. 

“[We’ll] hopefully get it out there so people can donate, whether it’s five dollars, fifty dollars, five hundred or five thousand,” he says. “Anything would be fantastic.

“We figure if Israel Folau can get a whole lot of donations, we reckon we’ve got a chance.”

“I look forward to the day when our daughters can achieve the same level of personal and financial success in their chosen sport as our sons” – Wellington mayor Justin Lester

Wellington City Councillor and Basin Reserve Trust member Fleur Fitzsimons says it is an excellent idea and she supports it 100 percent.

“By renaming the Basin Reserve to ‘Support Women’s Sport Basin Reserve’, I think we’ll be sending a really important message to girls and women across the world that in Wellington we really value the role of women in sport,” she says.

Although there had been a lot of support for the proposed name change, Fitzsimons does expect some push back.

“I think Wellingtonians are really conscious that there’s a lot of sexism and discrimination in New Zealand sport and renaming the Basin Reserve would really be one step towards the better promotion and celebration of women in sport.”

She says that if the crowd funding campaign was successful, then the new name would go ahead.

Women in Sport Aotearoa are supporting the group’s proposal for the new name. Chief executive Rachel Froggatt says raising the visibility of women’s sport was key to ensuring New Zealand was in a position where women and girls could take part in sport, compete and build careers.

She says to see such an iconic sporting venue change its name would be an exciting way to raise the profile of women in sport and will “no doubt create quite a stir”.

“What I love about this campaign is I’m hoping it will stir up quite a conversation around women’s sport,” she says.

“There’s going to be lots of people who have different views on whether it’s a good idea or not a good idea, but the conversation is such an important one to have.”

Wellington mayor Justin Lester said in a statement that he supported the initiative.

“I look forward to the day when our daughters can achieve the same level of personal and financial success in their chosen sport as our sons,” he wrote. “I look forward to them achieving equal pay and recognition, and the support they deserve.

“The initiative to raise awareness for women’s sport is simply brilliant and one we should all support.”

* Fair Play is a monthly podcast covering issues related to women in sport. It’s made in association with RNZ, WiSPSports and LockerRoom. This month’s episode discusses mixed gender sports and is out next week.

Zo—ë George is a Radio New Zealand producer, and presenter of the Fair Play podcast, a co-production of RNZ and WiSP Sports.

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