In terms of opportunity for women, Rugby 7s is paving the way. In 2018, following negotiations between the Rugby Union Players' Association (RUPA) and Rugby Australia (RA), it was agreed that male and female Rugby players would receive pay parity at an entry-level. It doesn't stop there. The current Rugby 7s women's side, including Pelite, became the first team to become full-time contracted professional athletes.
"Gaining pay parity was a huge step forward for women’s sport in Australia," Pelite says. "The Women’s Series now have more opportunities to travel the world and play alongside the Men’s Series. With six tournaments now combined with Men’s and Women’s, I only hope to see this number continue to increase for many more years to come."
Rugby isn't the only sport making headway though. Cricket Australia launched the Women’s Big Bash League (WBBL), a domestic women's 20-over a side competition. It was an immediate hit. In fact, higher-than-expected ratings even prompted broadcaster Channel 10 to move some of the games from their secondary digital channels on to their main channel. It even out-rated some men’s A-League soccer matches. Women’s football has also drawn large audiences. Throughout 2016, women’s AFL teams played a number of exhibition matches, culminating in an all-star game in early September. The game was a rating smash, with the highest average audience in Melbourne of any game - men's or women's - during the 2016 AFL season.
It's women such as Pelite who are paving the way for parity, something she and the team don't take lightly.
She says, "With the success, our team has had in previous years there is a higher expectation of us as players and as a team that we hold ourselves accountable to. As a gold medalist the expectation is to always come first, so when we do fall short of that sometimes, it can be challenging to pick yourself back up from that. But it is important as a role model to stay humble in success and gracious in defeat. That’s a key message I want young girls to always remember."
"Growing up I didn’t have a female rugby player to idolise, there were only males. So, to have young girls look up to me and have a goal of one day playing rugby for Australia is a role that I definitely do not take lightly."
To find out more about the HSBC Sevens series happening in Sydney on February 1 - 2, see here.