By PAULA WARD
I love sport – watching it, playing it and talking about it. I also happen to be a woman. There’s nothing unusual in that. However, when business and sport collide it’s often considered to be the domain of men.
I worked in human resources for an investment bank for eight years and the professional services sector for eleven years so I heard a lot of sports talk. Now, I spend my time running workshops and writing sporting pocket guides to teach people the fundamentals of Australian sports. 101 workshops and cheat sheets, so to speak, to enable people to learn about some of our most popular sports.
Now I know this may not seem to be a career transition that makes much sense on face value but it works for me. I’ve found a career that marries my passion for sport with the professional skills I honed in the male-dominated corporate corridors of the finance world.
But, how did it come about?
A few years ago I was sitting in a pub with friends after work one day, when a very non-sporting friend pointed to the TV screen which showed the Socceroos playing at the FIFA (call it football or soccer) World Cup in Johannesburg and said “I’m meant to be there.” Three of us swiveled around with a collective, “What?” She explained that her global CEO had been in the country a few days before and had asked ten people from the Asia-Pacific region to accompany him to South Africa for the World Cup. She had said no to the invitation! We incredulously asked why, to which she shrugged and said she didn’t know the rules and wasn’t going to look like some sort of idiot in front of her boss. Can you believe it!?!
I was aghast. I was flabbergasted. I couldn’t believe it. Knowing my enthusiasm for all things sport, I asked why she didn’t ask me to get her up-to-speed. She said rather simply, she just didn’t think to. I could have easily explained the offside rule, scoring, penalty shoot outs, sudden death and the like to her.
And, so the idea for my business, Know The Game, was born. Never did I want a friend to let a lack of sporting knowledge prevent him/her from taking every opportunity presented to network, get involved and build relationships with key executives, clients and colleagues.
My years of playing and watching sport was suddenly relevant to my career.
In creating Know The Game my aim has been to level the playing field and let everyone know enough about our local sports to be able to take advantage of the benefits that come from mixing business with sporting banter.
It’s evolved and while still centred on inclusion, the focus is now broader – it’s about work with colleagues and clients, home with family and friends and being a part of your local community. I don’t want people to be left standing on the sidelines feeling like they can’t participate.
Sport is a natural topic of conversation for me. With a Dad, a brother and six uncles the sporting banter is never far away in our family. You may say mum and I never had a chance of anything but loving sport but we’ve both played sport from a young age and are compelled to play, watch and talk about it.