As part of October’s celebration of Women in Sport, we’re profiling some of the Rebels most inspiring female staff away from the field.
Melbourne Rebels Director, Lyndsey Cattermole, joins Rebels GM of Consumer and Community, Rachel Mitrione and RUPA Player Development Manager, Moana Leilua, in discussing how they became involved in sport, their proudest achievements and what advice they would have for the next generation of women entering the sports industry!
How did you first become involved in the sports industry?
ML: It was through two seasons of volunteering. I volunteered with the Counties Manukau men’s sevens team for two summers in 2014 and 2015. I was volunteering as Team Manager and really enjoyed it, going back-to-back National Champions.
Towards the end of that, there was a change of guard with the NPC team, so Tana Umaga who was coach of the Manukau Steelers moved on to the Blues.
The coach I was working with in the sevens program got promoted to the Steelers and then asked me if I was interested in becoming Team Manager for the Manukau Steelers.
That was in 2016 and my introduction into men’s rugby and into sport. It’s only been six seasons, but I’m really enjoying it.
RM: I was driven to sports as early as Year 10 when we had to select something for work experience. I thought I might want to be in hospitality, so I did a week at the Meridian Hotel and quickly realised I didn’t want to do that after cracking 700 eggs for the kitchen.
My other week was with Tennis Australia, and I loved it! I have always loved tennis and grew up watching it with my family and was lucky enough to spend a week there and when university selection courses became available, I selected sport and marketing.
LC: I don’t know if you can classify me as in the sports industry, but I’m certainly a contributor to it. Sport goes back to when you were a kid – you either love it or loathe it. Living in Melbourne, it’s impossible not have joy watching and experiencing sport.
If you’re not involved and you’re just sitting on the sidelines, either not being a member or not being a really good supporter, I believe you’re missing something.
So, the opportunity to be a female football supporter and engaged with the Rebels, is really something quite special.
Being part of something new and not as established as some of the other sports is pretty exciting as well.
What has been your proudest moment working in sports so far?
ML: I’ve got a couple! Securing the role as Team Manager for Manukau Countie Steelers. In my culture, you look to your past before you look to the future. This role was a watershed moment for me. Prior to this, I had been working in the corporate and education sector, so I had a very non-linear career pathway.
The Club had been in operation since 1955 and had never had a female Team Manager or a Pacific person in that role, so there was a huge responsibility that came with that role and I was really proud to serve there for four seasons.
The move to Australia has also been absolutely amazing for my professional growth as well.
In my career as a sports administrator, being able to create and facilitate the leadership program that I poured my heart and soul into last year was huge for me. To also be a part of the formal blessing of our inaugural Pacific jersey was the icing on the cake.
I’ll always be forever grateful to the Melbourne Rebels for allowing me the opportunity to create something that was mine and I’ve had a lot of great support from people along the journey.
RM: I’ve been lucky to have quite a few memorable experiences in my career. Recently, I was a successful applicant for the Victorian Government ‘Change Our Game Executive Scholarship’ which is a $10,000 award. I’m putting that towards my Masters of Sport at Deakin University next year.
LC: During my time with the Rebels, the greatest pride is when we celebrate a win when maybe we shouldn’t.
I think what we’ve built here is something we should be very proud of. We do punch above our weight. We’ve fulfilled what we said we would do, which is provide Wallabies and Wallaroos.
It’s a great sport and hard not to be involved. We’ve also got new competitions with Sevens girls across the state, where the growth is just fantastic, so it’s an exciting time for our sport.
What advice would you provide the next generation of women coming into the sports administration industry?
ML: Being able to bring your authentic self into work – for me that’s hustle and heart over hustle and grind, which is why I connect with our ‘love ethos’ so strongly, because that’s how I operate anyway. You hustle with heart and don’t forget who you are.
One of my favourite quotes is by Jennifer Lee: 'Be fearless in the pursuit of what sets your soul on fire.' Be fearless in your approach to your role and the work you've been called to do. Focus and be present. Be where your feet are and the opportunities will come when it’s the right time.
Representation also matters – if not you, then who!
And be kind, because it goes a long way in this high-octane environment, we choose to work in. I think that has done me a lot of good, especially coming from New Zealand and coming over to a new country. Being able to adapt and fall back on your core values has been valuable and for me that’s something my parents trained me in and disciplined me in.
RM: I think it’s a really exciting time for not just women playing sport but also administrators in sport. I think networking is something that can really help your career out.
Just working with and talking to the right people. Connecting with people, understanding their story and seeing how they can help you through your career.
There are some great entry levels roles at the moment as well, so apply and let people know who you are.
LC: It’s a fabulous time for young women to be looking at sport as a career because of the complexity off the field, which now allows for occupations that were never part of the sporting industry, even maybe twenty-years ago.
Jobs like psychology or coaching assistants or ground management, it’s an exciting time with super opportunities if you love sport.