Record crowds are supporting women's sporting events
International Women's Day saw Australia win the 2020 ICC Women's T20 World Cup Final at the Melbourne Cricket Ground (MCG) in Australia.
The match saw equal billing to the men's final and was enjoyed by fans worldweide. With space for over 100,000 spectators in the world's largest cricket ground, the venue saw a larger crowd in attendance than the 90,185 spectators who attended the 1999 FIFA Women’s World Cup final held at the Rose Bowl in the USA.
Cricket Australia is progressive when it comes to equality in sport. Previously, they had added to the prize money won by the Australian women’s cricket team to ensure equality with the men’s winnings - while the prize money pool for the 2020 women’s World Cup was increased by 320% on the 2018 tournament.
10 teams contested a total of 23 matches in six host cities. The tournament kicked off with a match between hosts Australia and India in Sydney.
A pioneering digital partnership
Not only did this event mark a progression in equality, but also a pioneering move for the digital age.
Cricket Australia has partnered with digital technology company HCL to create and scale memorable digital experiences across the cricket ecosystem, to inspire a love for the game. The partnership provides an elevated and immersive digital experience to unite and inspire cricket fans, players, partners, employees, and volunteers across the country and around the world.
The collaboration scales digital transformation and inspires exceptional experiences across the ecosystem to fulfill the vision of making cricket one of Australia’s favourite sports - and a sport for all Australians.
When Cricket Australia announced their new digital technology partnership with HCL, some of their best female cricketers revealed who inspired them on their journey to their elite level.
Of specific interest is the highly talented Australian Women's Cricket Team and their ever impressive Captain, Meg Lanning, and further players like Ellyse Perry.
Superstar appearance from Katy Perry
In the spirit of celebration, global pop superstar Katy Perry provided an exclusive performance, an appearance that reinforced the popularity of women's sporting events.
“I'm all about celebrating equality and the achievements of women, which naturally happens on a global scale on International Women's Day. It’s no coincidence that I said yes to performing live at the women's final on this day,” said Katy Perry.
“I hope to bring a unifying, electric performance playing some of my most empowering songs for the best female cricketers on the planet and some of my greatest fans, as we all unite to support gender equality and empower people to achieve everything that they desire."
A mural celebrating two famous Perrys was unveiled
Ahead of the match, a mural was unveiled in Melbourne celebrating celebrating both Katy and Australian cricketer Ellyse Perry, who was named ICC Cricketer of the Year 2019. The mural was painted by local Melbourne artist Tayla Broekman.
Ellyse and her team played their first match of the tournament against India in the opening match at Sydney Showground Stadium.
"It’s an incredible ambition to try and fill the MCG on International Women’s Day for the T20 World Cup final. As a team, we have a long way to go, but we recognise we have a great opportunity ahead of us and we’re looking forward to getting into the event. Regardless of whether we’re there, it’ll be an incredible moment for women’s cricket," Ellyse had said.
"It’s very exciting to have someone like Katy Perry coming to play at the final and a bit surreal to be sharing a place with her on this mural. It’s a bit of fun that she shares the same name, so hopefully I can get her in one of my Australian shirts.”
A diverse line-up of Australian performers
The opening match of the tournament saw pre-game Australian performers Vera Blue (Celia Pavey), Mitch Tambo, DJ Dena Amy and Indian-born musician Harts (Darren Hart), who treated both the live and global TV audience to music and dance at the Sydney Showground Stadium.
“I’m super excited to be performing alongside some other amazing Aussie artists. It’s not very often you get to be performing at the opening celebration of the ICC Women’s T20 World Cup. This is going to be really different for me and everyone else performing there, but I think it’s going to be really fun," said Vera Blue.
“I love that this tournament is about showcasing the world’s best female cricketers. It’s really cool that the fans get the chance to see them play here in Australia," she added.
“As an artist and a performer, I always look up to those paving the way for me. It’s important for young girls, and boys, to see that there is a pathway for them in many aspects of life, including professional sport. It’s going to be amazing.”
Support from tennis hero Billie Jean King
Further support for this event came in from equality advocate and tennis hero Billie Jean King, who attended the final on International Women's Day.
In a short film produced by the ICC T20 World Cup, Billie Jean had showcased pioneering women encouraging people to attend the match.
Billie Jean was also the keynote speaker for the Change Our Game Lunch, an International Women's Day event in Melbourne.
“It is an honour to be part of the ICC Women’s T20 World Cup and the International Women’s Day celebrations planned in Melbourne," she said. “This year, as we celebrate the 50th anniversary of the Original 9 and the birth of women’s professional tennis, and what we did to change tennis and all sports, we hope to bring that same vision for equality, opportunity and acceptance to the World Cup this March.”
Raising awareness for UNICEF and its projects
The ICC extended its support for women and girls around the world through a partnership with UNICEF.
This sporting event provided UNICEF a vital platform to raise awareness of its global work and generate donations.
Through a presence during the ICC Men’s Cricket World Cup, UNICEF raised $180,000 for a girls’ cricket project in Afghanistan.
Similar projects have benefitted from donations during the ICC Women’s T20 World Cup 2020, such as one supporting girls in Sri Lanka.
Both fans at the match and those watching at home wrere able to support UNICEF.
“Cricket has tremendous power to make a difference in the lives of children, especially girls, by building leadership skills, empowering them to achieve their goals and building bridges within communities - so that we can ultimately build a better world together," commented UNICEF Australia Chair Ann Sherry AO. “We are excited to partner with the ICC on the Women’s T20 World Cup 2020 and enormously proud that Australia is hosting this important event for women.”
With support from partners like Katy Perry, Billie Jean King, UNICEF and HCL - and global cricket fans - the event was a considerable success.