Australia’s most capped female cricketer Alex Blackwell has today been honoured with the inaugural International Women’s Day – Leadership in Sport Award at a special breakfast discussing the future of women’s sport. Minister for Sport Stuart Ayres this morning handed over the award and paid tribute to the former Australian vice-captain and NSW skipper for her contribution to cricket and mentoring work spanning close to two decades.

“Alex Blackwell is one of the most talented players this country has ever produced and she has worked tirelessly to raise the profile of issues relating to gender equality and diversity in sport, including advocating for multicultural and LGBTQI communities and people living with a disability,” Mr Ayres said. Alex said she was humbled by the award which she hopes will contribute to an ongoing conversation about challenges such as pay parity.

“One of my passions is to keep pushing for sports to be gender blind,” Ms Blackwell said. “I hope other codes and sponsors follow the lead of Cricket Australia, Cricket NSW and NSW Breakers sponsor Lendlease which introduced gender equitable payment systems in the last few years. “It meant overnight the pay of players doubled so we could concentrate on the game,” Ms Blackwell said. Alex has dedicated 15 years to representing Australia that included five ICC World Cup wins. She recently retired from international and state cricket but will continue to play for the Sydney Thunder in the Women’s Big Bash.

Cricket NSW CEO Andrew Jones said; “Cricket is committed to being the No.1 sport for girls and women and the breakout success of the WBBL shows this is achievable.” “Sport as a collective has a shared responsibility for driving gender equity and together we can make a difference in improving participation rates for women and girls.” Mr Ayres said the award is timely with International Women’s Day only two days away and the release of the NSW Government’s ‘Women in Sport Strategy’ due in the middle of this year.

The Sports Minister also today announced a new NSW Government $5,000 annual Women’s Leadership in Sport Scholarship to support an individual who is pro-actively developing innovative approaches to increasing female participation.