With so many talented women in our corner at The Star, we weren’t content to confine our International Women’s Day celebrations to the 8 March – so we’re declaring this The Star’s women’s week. To mark it, meet our women to watch in 2021.
We’re proud of the many strong, funny, professional and fierce women who represent The Star and our most-valued partners.
Sport has always been a big part of our DNA at The Star and we’re the first to don our colours and cheer on our sides. As proud partners of Sydney FC and NSW Rugby League, we’ve particularly loved watching women’s sport in Australia leap from strength to strength.
With more and more women’s codes emerging around the nation – all winning more TV airtime and fans – global research company Nielsen recently put Australia at the forefront of a global surge in women’s sports. If you want inspiration, look no further than the incredible players who represent us.
In honour of International Women’s Day in March, we spoke with two inspiring athletes – one running full pelt into the prime of her career, and another who has just hung up her boots and set her sights on leading the next generation. Together, they embody why there’s never been a more exciting time for women’s sport.
Princess Ibini is an Australian sports player kicking goals in the most literal and figurative of ways. Princess is from a true football family – with her older brother Bernie a fellow Sky Blue and Socceroo – but the 21-year-old has blazed her own path since running onto the field for Sydney FC at the tender age of 15. With a two-goal contribution to the Sky Blues 3-0 victory against the Wanderers in December last year, Princess starts 2021 as one of Australia’s most exciting soccer stars.
In the years since she started her career, Princess has experienced firsthand a shift in the world of women’s sport. “From when I first started playing in the W-league to now, a lot has changed over time and it is only getting better – not just in the footballing world but for all women’s sports,” she says. With Australia winning hosting duties for the 2023 FIFA Women’s World Cup, this momentum is sure to only grow.
Despite her young age, on the soccer field, Princess has already helped challenge the status quo as one of the only players of African descent playing in the league. She counts the great Serena Williams as one of her inspirations – with the tennis pro having been a role model not just for women in sport, but for black women especially.
“Not only has she broken barriers in tennis, but she has broken barriers for women’s sport and has inspired so many black women in sport around the world to pursue their dreams,” Princess says. One day, Princess hopes she can be a similar role model to others – inspiring kids to chase their own dreams by telling them: “don’t let any challenge stop you from getting to your goal.”
A professional sportswoman who knows all about this progress, Kylie Hilder started playing Rugby League when women were nearly non-existent in the sport. Now, as Kylie retires at the age of 44 after helping her team claim the Women’s Premiership in 2020, the women’s rugby league is one of the fastest-growing sports in Australia.
“Growing up, women were not part of Rugby League clubs unless they were running the canteen or washing jerseys. Women didn’t even play the game,” Kylie says. “I have been very fortunate to work in our great game of Rugby League for over 15 years and have witnessed firsthand the barriers coming down – and at times been involved in getting those barriers down. Today we have an elite women’s competition, women as presidents of clubs and even board members at all levels of our game.”
Even though her playing career has come to an end, Kylie won’t stop tearing down those barriers. This year, she gets ready to lead the next generation of rugby stars as an NSWRL coach and Female Pathways Manager for NSW Rugby League.
In her leadership position, Kylie is also acutely aware of her capacity to help the next generation of Australian sportswomen. “Every day I am changing the perception that women don’t belong in the game of Rugby League,” she says. “ The mark I would like to leave is putting a stamp on the future for females in Rugby League – giving them equal opportunities and making a contribution to future generation’s Rugby League careers.”
Check out “Our Women To Watch” series: