Image: Wikimedia Commons / Tourism Victoria
Image: Wikimedia Commons / Tourism Victoria

The Record: transforming attitudes to women’s sport

Those interested in the progression of elite women’s sport – especially cricket – will want to check out a new two-part insider documentary on the 2020 T20 Women’s World Cup.

The ICC Women’s T20 World Cup is an international cricket tournament that happens every two years, showcasing some of the best female athletes in the world. In 2020, it was Australia’s turn to host and the executives set out a bold plan to break the world record for attendance at a women’s sporting event, on International Women’s day. 

The current record of 90,185 was achieved in 1999 at the FIFA Women’s World Cup Final and Australia wanted to take this opportunity to make a statement for women’s sport. The catch was that it all hinged on Australia making it to the final.

The Record unveils the mounting pressure that was felt amongst the team and tournament executives to achieve a record attendance

The Record charts Australia’s journey to the final, shedding light on the extreme highs and brutal lows of elite women’s cricket. It unveils the mounting pressure that was felt amongst the team and tournament executives to achieve a record attendance.

What makes this documentary so enthralling is how high the stakes are for those in front and behind the camera. The documentary itself depended on Australia getting to the final, so it was a big risk for co-producer Angela Pippos and proved to be an extremely stressful endeavour: “Our film depended on Australia getting through to the final, so it was a white-knuckled ride… waking up in Sydney the morning of the semi-finals and seeing that rain was highly distressing, it didn’t look like there was going to be a match.”

The players themselves are really put through the wringer, showing how even the number one team in the world is not invincible. They suffer setbacks at every corner such as losing their opening game, having to rule out injured players, and bad weather that threatens their survival in the tournament. For me, what stands out the most in the documentary is the behind the scenes interviews woven amongst the gameplay which allows you to connect with the players. With women receiving so little media coverage in sport in comparison to their male counterparts there are so many voices unheard and stories left untold. The Record takes a step in addressing this disparity and brings out the players’ personalities and back stories. 

Time and again sportspeople are treated like robots with one job – to perform their sport – and little else is explored. So it’s very refreshing to see their characters shine, especially the typically quiet Beth Mooney who drops f-bombs to express the tough realities of sport.

It was about reiterating to the world that there is a continuing mass audience for women’s sport, that it can be self-sufficient, is high standard and entertaining in its own right

Angela Pippos emphasised that The Record wasn’t just about Australian cricket though: “It was the equality piece in this story that was the most powerful. Yes there was a world cup, but it was the ‘lets fill the MCG’ that really spurred us to do something about it.” #FilltheMCG was the huge campaign to fill every seat of the Melbourne Cricket Ground in the World Cup final on International Women’s Day. It was about reiterating to the world that there is a continuing mass audience for women’s sport, that it can be self-sufficient, is of a high standard and entertaining in its own right.

Unfortunately, once the momentous day had passed, the Covid-19 pandemic stole the opportunity to celebrate what had been achieved for women’s sport; how it shifted attitudes not just on the Australian sporting landscape but on the global one. Instead global gender inequities in sport were reinforced and the majority of women were treated secondary to men. Pippos hopes to remind people of the successes of 8 March 2020 through the project: “This documentary is a chance for people to have these conversations, about how meaningful March the 8th was in context of women’s sport and global sport,” and thinks it “will spark the conversations we need to have.”

The Record is available on Amazon Prime from 12 February 2021.

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