Finalist 2016: Mikayla Lorenz, SA
Name: Mikayla Lorenz
Community, State: Whyalla, SA
School: Samaritan College
Age: 16, Grade 10
Why is gender equality important to you and your community?
In Whyalla sports are viewed as gender specific, a mindset that is very hard to change. As a young girl, I discovered my passion for soccer. Living in a rural community, I was never treated as an equal when it came to playing soccer. I was told soccer was a male sport and I would not have a future in the sport because I am female. Attending every training and giving 100%, I was on the bench every game and was only considered to play when they had no one else.
I played for a year in the Whyalla soccer side, until the new coach told me I would never make it. He said I should just give up. I endured playing in an all-boys team for six years not being treated as an equal or being recognised for my skills. Now I endure a weekly 8 hour round-trip to Adelaide to play in an all-girls team where I am treated as an equal and my skills are acknowledged.
Eventually I was selected for the state team and an All-Australian team, where I had the opportunity to play in three different countries. I compete with and against girl who share my vision and passion for soccer. Despite this experience, I realised that most people in my local community share the opinion that soccer is a “male sport” and there is no future in soccer for females.
The gender inequality present in my sport and community is greatly evident in society, local and elsewhere. For example there is significant inequality between the US Men’s and Women’s soccer teams. The US Men’s soccer team are ranked 30th in the world. They get paid $17,000 for a win and $5,000 if they lose. In comparison, the US Women’s soccer team, with World No. 1 status, receive only $1,300 for a win and nothing if they lose. This extent of inequality is conditioning the mindset that females will never receive the same level of respect as their male counterparts.
Gender equality is important to myself and my community as my home town is abundant with young female soccer players, developing their skills and love for the sport.
Having the recognition that women can play and succeed in a “men’s sport” would have an everlasting effect on the mindset of women in sport, and hopefully promote gender equality in my community and abroad.