Orange sporting stalwart Amanda Ferguson says the establishment of gender-specific changerooms is the next logical step for clubs and codes after the announcement new government funding designed to improve women's facilities is now available.
The NSW Government has committed up to $50 million to the delivery of women's sporting programs and facilities in regional areas, with appropriate amenities for females a priority to continue breaking down that barrier to participation.
The funding is part of the fourth round of the government's Stronger Country Communities Fund initiative and, although not exclusively, appears particularly relevant to clubs involved in sports traditionally dominated by men.
There seems to be more women playing ... every year which is just great, so I think it's an outstanding opportunity for clubs.Rugby union stalwart Amanda Ferguson
A stalwart of Orange, Central West and NSW Country rugby union, Amanda Ferguson has seen first-hand the boom in popularity among females in her sport which, in turn, has continually created more demand for appropriate amenities.
"That isn't restricted to rugby union, there seems to be more women playing those traditionally male-dominated sports every year which is just great, so I think it's an outstanding opportunity for clubs in all codes across Orange and the Central West," she said.
"A lot of the facilities we see around here were built at a time when there was very few female players, but as we see more coming in it is forcing changerooms to be used by both men and women more often, the demand is higher, it's the logical next step.
"In my experience, male players have always respected when it's the women's turn to use facilities and clubs have the right processes in place, but separate facilities would take out any issues because there are some female players who aren't entirely comfortable.
"I think it's particularly important when we consider the amount of young female players beginning to play these sports, particularly right down to juniors when teams are mixed, with girls and boys playing together."
NSW Minister for Women Bronnie Taylor was on hand at the funding's announcement and said the funding will help bring facilities up to date, a lot of those around Orange and the region have been through upgrades recently.
While sports like netball and hockey have had both men's and women's amenities available at their respective facilities for some time, Wade Park's recent upgrades have allowed the same for sporting codes using that ground too.
"Facilities designed exclusively for women should be standard and this funding will help women all over rural and regional NSW overcome a major hurdle and feel empowered to play the sports they love with comfort and confidence," Mrs Taylor said.
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