“Showcasing women in sports performance roles… is what will increase the percentage of female practitioners”: Wrapping up 18 Women in Sport interviews

For the past 12 months, we’ve been speaking with the practitioners that have been paving the way for women in sports performance. Below are links to 18 stories with 18 powerful, hard-working, innovative women who inspire us. 

1. Tania Gallo

Head Sports Scientist, North Melbourne FC – Australian rules football

“Knowing that you’re working for someone who trusts your work and values your opinion while being able to challenge you, and is your biggest advocate, is a position I remind myself not to take for granted.”

Gallow discusses more:

  • Right place, right time
  • North Melbourne FC
  • Prioritisation & perseverance
  • Sports science culture
  • The future


2. Tahleya Eggers

Sports Scientist, Parramatta Eels – National Rugby League (NRL)

“The rate of technological growth in the industry is rapid. In turn, the level of data analytics will increase, requiring practitioners to develop a more advanced skill set. As the data and analysis demands of the job advance, the need for interpretation into direct practice is maintained.”


3. Suzy Russell

Mental Health Project Manager, Queensland Rugby Union

“Lots of elite athletes are seen as heroes and role models – we need to make it more acceptable for them to take charge of their mental health during their career.” 

With reference to rugby, Russell mentions:

  • The importance of mental health
  • Research in mental fatigue
  • The difference between genders
  • Support and mentors
  • Human value


4. Dr. Shona Halson

Associate Professor in the School of Behavioural and Health Sciences, Australian Catholic University

“I always enjoy seeing the PhD students I have supervised, getting jobs and doing great work in the sports world”. 


5. Rachel Finlay

Head Sports Scientist, Tasman United – Football

“Showcasing women in sports science and sports performance roles, and making other female students visually aware that this can be achieved, is what will increase the percentage of female practitioners.”

Finlay discusses:

  • Getting a foot in the door
  • World cup success
  • Levelling the playing field
  • Openness & inclusivity


6. Natalia Bittencourt

Physical Therapist, Scientific Committee of the IOC World Conference on Sports Injury Prevention

“Working with two other sports PT’s and doctors, we completed an evidence-based monitoring process, and improved the functionality of those athletes in such a way that at the beginning of the season, they were jumping only 10 times in a game, but finished the season performing 90 per game.”


7. Naomi Datson

Senior Lecturer in Sports Performance Analysis, University of Chichester

“You’re working with lots of different people, so emotional intelligence is a must-have. If you can’t form the relationship first, you have no hope in leading them from a sports science perspective.”


8. Michelle Truncali

Assistant Strength and Conditioning Coach, University of Notre Dame

“Sports performance was nothing like I thought it would be. I initially thought it would be all about just ‘picking things up and putting them down’, but I could not have been more wrong.”


9. Kate Starre

High Performance Manager, Fremantle Dockers  (AFLW)

“The most important thing from a physical development perspective is ensuring ALFW athletes are appropriately conditioning to play a high-speed contact sport. With such a short period of time [eight weeks for non-VFLW teams] it is imperative to not waste precious minutes.”


10. Júlia Vergueiro

President, Pelado Real Futebol Clube

“I don’t remember many girls playing football when I was young; I always felt like the only one that really cared about the game.”

For more Brazilian football based content, click here.


11. Hannah Jowitt

International Pathways Analyst, England and Wales Cricket Board

“Of course there are a few gender stereotypes that you had to break down, particularly early on in my career and in my intern roles, but I’ve been very lucky to have great mentors.”

To view Hannah’s webinar which discusses her work on Catapult’s cricket algorithm, click here.

Learn more about Catapult’s cricket algorithm, here.


12. Georgie Bruinvels

Research Scientist, Orreco

“We’re fighting for the female athlete to be heard. This is largely reflective of the lack of funding, and the daunting nature of the whole area.” 

Bruinvels discusses:

  • Female athlete programs
  • Combining research and applied science
  • Facing barriers
  • What the future holds


13. Cheryl Cox

Athletic Performance Coach, University of California-Berkeley

“You can’t become a champion without brutal accountability. By teaching the athletes how to take ownership and accountability, you are creating resilient individuals who have the skillset necessary to be great in both sport and life.”


14. Alivia del Basso

Strength & Conditioning Coach, West Coast Eagles (AFLW)

“The evolution of science and technology has been crazy. I think you would be silly not to use it if you have the opportunity.” 


15. Alice Sweeting

Sports Scientist, Western Bulldogs

“I prefer the term “work-life-integration” rather than “work-life-balance” and always try to encourage PhD students I supervise to make time for things they enjoy, along with taking breaks and getting enough rest.”

Sweeting mentions:

  • The Western Bulldogs & Academia
  • Work-life balance
  • The future of sport science
  • Successes & inspiration
  • Parting advice


16. Minky Tshabalala

Sports Science Manager, University of Johannesburg

“You need to be goal-oriented. It’s not going to be easy. I come in, I do my job. I don’t take things personally. Don’t give anyone a reason to question your abilities.” 


17. Mar Alvarez

Head of Strength and Conditioning, Spanish National Rugby Team

“Everyone has a unique coaching style. You need to ask yourself: how do your athletes react to your approach?”

Ver versión en español


18. Heidi Thornton

Head of Sports Science, Gold Coast Suns – Australian rules football

“I think the biggest challenge as a female in this industry is actually landing a secure role.”

Thornton discusses:

  • Transitioning from the NRL to AFL
  • Challenges faced
  • The impact of Coronavirus
  • Adapting to change


If you’re interested in learning about technology and Catapult’s solutions, get in touch.

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