Going in to bat for gender equity

NZPA | Fri June 1st, 2018

The Police Association’s Sport Administrator of the Year is a hard-working volunteer and champion for women in sport.

Sally Morrison with daughtersCricket started exerting a strong influence on Sally Morrison’s life even before she was born.

Her birth, on March 7, 1974, was induced so that her father, cricketer John Morrison, would be available to play in a test match.

In the Morrison family, cricket has always been important and Sally has continued the tradition, becoming a pioneer for women administrators in the sport.

Last month, she was named as the Police Association Sport Administrator of the Year for 2017 in recognition of a series of her contributions to cricket over many years, including her support for gender equity in the sport.

Sally is a Police employee who works as principal adviser strategy at the Police College. She has a background in project and relationship management.

Police Association president Chris Cahill presented Sally with her award, the Gordon Hogg Memorial Rosebowl trophy, at the Police College, noting that it was one of the most highly contested categories in the annual sports awards.

“There were applicants from some very high-profile organisations, but you stood out. The award is for work over one year, but it also recognises your contribution to sport administration over 30 years. Your voluntary work epitomises what makes New Zealand so successful in sport.”

Sally played senior cricket for more than 20 years and also coached and managed the Wellington women’s team, the Blaze, for five years.

In 2009, she was elected to the Cricket Wellington (CW) board as the first elected female director, making her the only woman on any major association board at that time. That appointment followed two years as chair of the Wellington Collegians Cricket Club – also a first for a woman in Wellington.

In 2016, Sally was elected chair of CW and remains the only woman to have held this role at a national or regional level in New Zealand.

She has a long history of club cricket involvement, playing her first game of senior women’s club cricket at the age of 14.

As a four year old racing around the backyard with her brother and father, she says, it never occurred to her that being female might affect her experience of the game.

She has always had an unerring belief that cricket is for everyone and has actively championed that, moving into club administration at the age of 16 as a co-club captain. It’s perhaps no surprise to find out that she was the first female to take that role.

During her time at the Wellington Collegians Cricket Club, she increased the number of senior women’s sides from one to four and was involved in developing a new grade in Wellington cricket for an under-18 “premier girls’ league”, eventually forming the Wellington City premier girls’ side in conjunction with the Karori Cricket Club.

In 2011, as a director on the CW board, she drove the McDermott Review of community cricket with the aim of ensuring club sustainability at all levels.

The following year, she was involved in the CW Women’s Cricket Review with Sport Wellington, subsequently chairing the resulting Women’s Advisory Group. In 2015, she was a contributor to the development of New Zealand Cricket’s Women’s Strategy – a damning report on that subject.

Since Sally’s election as the CW chair, the board and new CEO Cam Mitchell have led extensive organisational change resulting in not only a financial turnaround but the board now has three female directors and a female board intern – a 50/50 gender split – making it the only cricket board in the country where that has been achieved.

Sally is unapologetic about the need for the board and management to “start at equity” and says positive change is more likely to happen when there is diversity at the board table.

Both women’s and men’s domestic coaches are employed fulltime at CW and it is operational practice that whenever the Blaze (women’s) and Firebirds (men’s) teams are talked or written about, the women’s side or players are mentioned first.

Because of her strong gender advocacy, Sally was invited to Perth last year to be a mentor for the Australian Institute of Police’s Management Balance Programme for female leaders.

She represented New Zealand Police, mentoring six women leaders over a 15-week period.

In August 2017, Sally began an important book project – a history of women in cricket in New Zealand. It’s a long-term team project with publication due in 2021 before the Women’s Cricket World Cup, which is being held in New Zealand.

Sally says the book will bring to light the feats of women cricketers who were previously unrecognised because of their gender. “It is time to tell the story of this great game and the women who dedicated so much to playing it well for their country. What better way to thank these women than to tell their story?”

Her book project work and her cricket roles are all unpaid, with her enthusiasm driven by her great love of cricket as “a dynamic, intelligent recreation choice” for all those who enjoy the game.

Meanwhile, Sally is also busy on the home front as the mother of four girls, a role she likes to mix with her cricket work “to show my daughters what it is to be a strong female role model”.

Above: Sally Morrison, principal adviser strategy at the Police College, with two of her four daughters, Thea, 7 (holding mum’s trophy), and Frida, 8. Photo: ELLEN BROOK

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