Most athletes dream of making the national team in their chosen sport. Those dreams are channelled into countless early mornings and late nights – when normal people are watching the telly, or sound asleep – riddled with sweat and exhaustion.
But for the inimitable Ellyse Perry, the accolade of representing her country in one sport simply wasn’t enough.
The 27-year-old, who grew up in Sydney’s suburb of Wahroonga, went a few leaps beyond, making her debut for both the Australian cricket team and soccer team one month apart.
That was in 2007. She was 16 years old.
And yet, if you placed 100 Aussies in a room and asked them for Ellyse’s name – or any current female athlete’s name – 50 of them wouldn’t be able to answer.
According to new research from the Commonwealth Bank, half the country can't name a current female athlete. It's baffling and frustrating considering the pool of female talent we boast, but there is hope; the bank's research also indicates that two thirds of Aussies say our kids should be getting more exposure to female sporting role models.
Speaking with Mamamia, Perry, now 27, says she's hopeful that equality in sport is on the horizon.
"The world of women’s sport has changed so much since [my first] cricket game back in 2007," the WBBL Sydney Sixers captain says.
"Every year there seems to be more and more interest in women’s cricket and sport in general – last
year in particular the hugely successful Women’s Ashes series spurred national conversation and talk in the media."
Since 2016, when we've seen the likes of the WBBL and AFLW explode, Commonwealth Bank reports the nation's interest in women's sport has been boosted by 47 per cent.
It might come as a surprise that, according to the bank's study, women's cricket is the most watched and listened to sport in Australia.
"For such a big uptake in interest, it really shows that Aussies perception of women in sport is changing."
To really close the gap, Perry says we need television networks to continue backing women's sport and giving the public an opportunity to witness female athletes in action.
The more kids who can identify a female athlete role model, the better.
"I'm a believer of be what you see," Perry tells Mamamia. "Young women need role models to stay motivated and committed when pursuing sport.
"[Hopefully] with more female role models and initiatives like the CommBank Women’s Ashes broadcast enhancement and support of grassroots cricket, interest in women's sport will continue to grow."
Listen: Mia Freedman is joined by sport fanatics Michelle Andrews and Gemma Garkut to unpack the rise of women’s sport, and why it’s taken so long.
As for parents? It's time to encourage your daughters (and sons) to choose a female role model that is inspirational for what she does; not merely what she looks like.
"There are so many amazing and inspiring women in sport," Perry, who will lead the Sixers in their semi-final against the Adelaide Strikers on Friday afternoon, says.
"I would honestly suggest that young girls follow the women who inspire them to pursue their sporting or fitness passion, whether that’s an athlete, blogger or friend."
To read more about the Commonwealth Bank's research into women's sport, click here.
KFC BBL & Rebel WBBL Semi-Finals tickets are currently on sale.
BBL away team and WBBL team members will have the opportunity to purchase into dedicated member areas from 10:00am – 12:30pm (local time), Monday 29 January.
Visit www.bigbash.com.au to secure tickets for these matches or see below.
Friday 2 February at Adelaide Oval