ALEX Blackwell, the out gay cricketer who captained NSW to a 10th consecutive National Women’s Cricket League title this weekend, has told the Star Observer that she has been “hurt” by homophobia within the sport and cricket bosses need to follow through on their commitment to LGBTI inclusion.
The sportswoman also said that the coming out of TV’s Magda Szubanski inspired her to be more open about her sexuality.
Talking to the Star Observer, Blackwell praised her teammates and said she was “proud to be able to play at the highest level in my sport”.
It was “extra special to take my team to 10 in a row,” she said, as “nine wouldn’t have sounded so good”.
Not that the tournament went all NSW’s way. Blackwell said at the semi-final mark the blues were in fourth position, but “we knew we had a chance and if you give us a chance we’ll take it”.
She added that cricketing bosses viewed the women’s team in the same way as the men’s.
“The administration treat us equally and hopefully that sets a standard for other states to follow,” Blackwell said.
However, the cricket champ admitted that she hadn’t been treated so equally within the sport after the 2013 public announcement of her sexuality.
“I’ve had some poor experiences with off hand comments, things that are meant to be funny, when people don’t realise what they’re saying is homophobic and it hurts,” she said.
Asked whether Cricket Australia (CA) had been supportive of her since her coming out, Blackwall replied: “At times they have.”
In November the sport announced it would be rolling out 100 “sport for all” workshops during 2015 to encourage engagement with groups including the LGBTI community.
CA has also signed up to the Bingham Cup led Anti-Homophobia and Inclusion Framework.
Blackwell, who was a Bingham Cup ambassador and is on CA’s Sport For All working group, welcomed the initiatives but said it shouldn’t be a one-off.
“Cricket is making a big effort and sport for all is a good concept but hopefully one that isn’t forgotten,” she said.
The cricketer, who also plays for Australia, said Kath and Kim actor Magda Szubanski’s coming out — live on tea time TV — inspired her to be more open.
“A big moment was when I saw Magda on The Project and she said she wasn’t hiding anything and, instead, it was the difference between being open and being public.”
A year later Blackwell became one of the only sports players to come out while still playing competitively, a rarity she puts down to concerns over sponsorship.
However, the two organisations who sponsor her teams — Lend Lease and Commonwealth Bank — are committed to LGBTI inclusion.
Last year, Blackwell took a step back from her role as a genetic counsellor working with mums-to-be to concentrate full time on cricket, a game she wants to change for the better.
“There is a certain image that is portrayed a lot of the time in sport but I would like sport to portray lots of different images because we’re not all the same,” she said.
“It’s not a new thing that there are gay sportspeople but that sportspeople are willing to talk about it is, and I just want to create an environment where everyone feels welcome.”
The NSW Breakers will meet the Victoria Spirit in today’s Twenty20 title clash at Canberra’s Manuka Oval. Live on Channel 10 from 2pm