New West Perth boss Linda Hamersley kicking goals for women in footy industry

Linda Hamersley at HBF Arena. Picture: Martin Kennealey
Linda Hamersley at HBF Arena. Picture: Martin Kennealey

IT is time for women to shine in higher football industry roles, according to new West Perth boss Linda Hamersley.

Hamersley, who began at the club on Monday, is the Falcons’ first female chief executive and just the second in WAFL history after former Perth chief executive Liz Bradley from 2007 to 2009.

The Queensland-born sports fanatic was “pretty pleased” to have created history at the Falcons.

“I hope I can do the club justiceas their first female CEO,” she said.

“I’m excited to be working in the football industry, which I know is quite male dominated.

“But with the onset of the women’s AFL, I think the time is right to have more females in higher positions in the industry.”

Hamersley arrives at HBF Arena after leading Athletics NZ as chief executive from 2014 to 2017. She is a former boss of Hockey WA and senior employee of the Confederation of Australian Motor Sport.

And while she admits Test cricket is her preferred sport, WA football is not foreign to her, having consulted at the WA Football Commission.

Hamersley believes there is little difference between football and other sports in terms of gender imbalance in senior roles. This includes hockey and athletics, codes with a strong history of female competition.

“Generally, more males are employed in the sporting industry,” she said.

“When I was in New Zealand, I think there were only three or four female CEOs of national sporting organisations… out of probably about 40. So I don’t know that there’s that much difference.”

Hamersley forms a formidable combination of sporting minds with husband Colin Batch, a former Olympic hockey player who now coaches the Australian men’s team.

She laughs that a lack of hand-eye co-ordination leaves her more adept at managing sport than competing in it.

A hectic schedule greets Hamersley at the Falcons, leaving her little time to get her bearings.

What is expected to be one of the biggest crowds in Arena Joondalup history awaits when Fremantle faces West Coast in an AFL pre-season game on Sunday, March 11.

Less than a week later, the club welcomes fans to its new $8 million headquarters with an open day on March 17. Then the season begins.

That considered, the last thing Hamersley needed on her first day was to be dealing with a major burst in a water pipe upstairs at Falcons HQ, which flooded through to the ground floor.

The plumbing issue was an annoying curve ball, but is expected to be fixed by Friday.

Hamersley’s biggest concern is learning the ropes in an unfamiliar environment.

“It’s the first time I’ve worked in the football industry for a club,” she said. “There’s a big learning curve for me, so it’s hit the ground running and connect with key people – a lot of those will be the volunteers; the lifeblood of most clubs.”

West Perth’s new era, as it looks to benefit from its own clubrooms for the first time, was a major enticement for Hamersley in applying for chief executive.

She considered it an optimal time to “maximise commercial use of the venue and create more certain financial stability”.

“It’s a perfect time to be getting in there and seeing a whole lot of change and new opportunities,” she said.

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