After kicking off our 50 most influential women in sport series to mark International Women’s Day with 50-41, we move to the next stage of our countdown, unveiling 40-31.
This list isn’t about the greatest athletes, although there are plenty of superstars among the top 50. To make this list, it wasn’t enough to be a champion sportswoman, although many are. From athletes to administrators, journalists to sports agents and sponsors, these women have made a difference.
Some have taken a stand on issues that transcend sport, some made the decisions that determine where the money goes or what sports we see on TV, and others work in the background to keep the major codes rolling along.
INFLUENTIAL WOMEN: See who made the list 50-41
Here’s who made the list from 40-31:
She’s one of the biggest players in rugby league right now … but you won’t see her running onto the field.
Australian Rugby League Commissioner Kate Jones is the code’s secret weapon.
A former Queensland politician, Jones is one of two women currently on the commission and is the person ARL Chair Peter V’landys trusts to get things done.
The mother of two was influential in brokering the agreement with the Queensland government to allow rugby league to continue during the COVID-19 pandemic. Roz Kelly
A childhood cancer survivor and Australia’s most successful female Paralympian, Cole has continually shown that anything is possible.
She embodies humanity and inclusivity in elite sport, and her prominence has been central to raising the platform for athletes living with a disability.
After retiring from swimming last year, Cole continues to advocate for para-sports and people with a disability as an ambassador for human services provider APM. Emily Patterson
One of the most memorable moments of the Tokyo 2020 Olympics was Fox winning gold in the C1 (canoeing).
The daughter of two Olympic canoeists, Fox has been at the top of her game for years.
She is a nine-time world champion and multiple Olympic medallist.
Competing across both the K1 and C1 events, Fox is, and will be, a competitor people aspire to be like for years to come. Billie Eder
Davis’ role as a member of the Australian Rugby League Commision is just one of her positions of significant influence in Australian life.
She is the pro vice-chancellor of the University of NSW, acting commissioner of the NSW Land and Environment Court and a member of the NSW Sentencing Council.
These roles follow a long and distinguished career in constitutional law with the United Nations.
Davis is a passionate rugby league supporter, once writing of the game’s power to bridge the divide of racism and dispossession in NSW and Queensland during the 20th century: “They didn’t call it reconciliation back then, they simply called it rugby league.” Georgina Robinson
Chloe Dalton is an inspiration to young women wanting to break into sports that were traditionally played by men.
At just 29, she has proven her talent in three elite codes: basketball, rugby union, and more recently AFL.
Dalton was famously part of the female rugby sevens team that won gold at the 2016 Olympics and has already received an Order for Australia for her service to sport.
But her influence comes from more than just her personal success.
In 2020, Chloe created a women’s sports platform, the [female] athlete project, her personal attempt to address gender inequality in sports media. Zoe Samios
A dual international, who played both rugby league and rugby union for Australia before retiring, Ferguson is now one of the leading female sports commentators.
Highly versatile, knowledgeable and articulate, Ferguson works for both Nine and Stan Sport on NRL, Super Rugby and Wallabies games.
She also appears weekly on the rugby league version of Nine’s Sunday Footy Show and is a strong voice for female athletes, helping to drive the transition for the next generation. Brooke Boney
A six-time medallist, including two golds, across four Paralympic Games in athletics, Madison de Rozario’s goal is to make a difference.
She was paralysed from the waist down when she was four years old after contracting a neurological disorder.
De Rozario is a force on the track, a world record holder who has also won world championships, Commonwealth Games gold, and international marathons.
She was named athlete of the year at Australia’s Women in Sport awards in 2022, and is a prominent advocate for inclusion and the power of sport as a force for disabled people to reclaim their physical selves. Melissa Coulter Ryan
A sports psychologist by training and background, acting AIS chief executive officer Clements leads the arm of the Australian Sports Commission responsible for investing in elite sport.
Under her stewardship, the AIS has trained its focus on the mental health of elite athletes.
Clements joined the Institute in 2018 and was promoted to run a new people development and well-being department five months into the coronavirus pandemic. Georgina Robinson
Ash Brazill is one of those people who didn’t excel at just one sport, she became a professional in two.
Most recently she was part of the Australian Diamonds netball squad that won gold at the 2022 Commonwealth Games in Birmingham.
But the 33-year-old is also an incredible AFLW player, representing Collingwood, for whom she also plays netball.
She put AFLW on the back burner while she campaigned for national selection in netball, but hopes to make her return to the field this year. Billie Eder
I must disclose that I am a distant relative of Caitlin Moran but, regardless of that, her place on this list can’t be denied as a strong Indigenous voice in women’s sport.
Using her platform to denounce colonialism has made Moran a hero to many in the Indigenous community.
The indigenous NRLW star drew controversy in 2022 when she commented strongly in opposition to Queen Elizabeth II in the immediate aftermath of the monarch’s death.
She became the first NRLW player to ever be suspended for an off-field issue after being hit with a one-game ban for her comment.
She was also fined.
The former Jillaroo was supported by her club, the Newcastle Knights, with coach Ronald Griffiths acknowledging that: “The relationship between Indigenous people and the monarchy is a complicated one.” Brooke Boney
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