2021 Women Leaders in Sport grant recipients announced

Sport Australia

A former Australian cricketer, Mildura basketball coach and a tennis player passionate about creating opportunities for people with disability have been named as successful recipients of the 2021 Women Leaders in Sport (WLIS) program.

More than 900 women across 50 sports will benefit from the WLIS Development Grants and Leadership Workshops which provide women in the Australian sport industry with opportunities to gain new skills, knowledge and qualifications to progress on their leadership pathway in the sector. 

Managed by Sport Australia in partnership with the Office for Women, the WLIS program has provided professional development to more than 25,000 women since 2002.

In 2021, 84 individuals and 13 organisations will share in $531,286 in funding with a further 290 women participating in online leadership workshops which started this week.

The successful recipients include former Australian cricketer and Director of the T20 World Cup Local Organising Committee Belinda Clark AO, who will use her grant funding to complete a Company Directors Course.

“I’m a big advocate for continual learning and this course will allow me to see our sport through a new lens with a strong focus on best governance practices,” Clark said.

Mildura Junior Head Coach Mahaela Jackson is passionate about continuing to build a strong foundation for the Mildura basketball community and will use the funding to undertake a Basketball Victoria Coaching Course to help her deliver an elite program. As a proud First Nations woman she’s also hoping to recruit and engage with more First Nations players in the local region.

“I hope that together with the Mildura Basketball Association we can continue to build a high-quality representative program so we can engage with more local talent and provide an alternative for families travelling to metro areas for advanced training programs,” Jackson said.

Sonja Balic volunteers on the Board of Blind Tennis NSW/ACT, manages the Elite UTS Tennis Club and coaches at City Community Tennis in Sydney. The 25-year-old will use her grant funding to undertake a Foundations of Directorship Course.

“My goal is to become a leader in sport where I can assist in creating more opportunities for people with all backgrounds and abilities. I’m so excited to be a 2021 WLIS grant recipient and I look forward to completing this course so that I can introduce sport to so many more people,” Balic said.

Minister for Sport, Senator the Hon Richard Colbeck said the program would help female coaches, officials and administrators shape the future of Australian sport.

“Next year we will host the FIBA Women’s Basketball World Cup and in 2023, the FIFA Women’s World Cup, providing real opportunities on our home soil to inspire future generations,” Minister Colbeck said.

“It’s important women at all levels and positions in sport have role models to look up to. This program creates genuine opportunities for women to grow and progress into leadership roles which will benefit sport from grassroots right up to elite competition.”

Sport Australia Acting CEO Rob Dalton congratulated the 2021 WLIS grant recipients.

“We’re delighted to be able to help a record number of incredibly talented women reach their leadership potential in sport by providing them with genuine development opportunities,” Mr Dalton said.

“We thank the Australian Government for supporting such a powerful initiative with $3.4 million committed over the next four financial years. This commitment allows us to expand our offerings to support the next generation of female sports leaders.”

A full list of recipients is available on the Women Leaders in Sport website.


Sport Australia is responsible for driving greater participation, engagement and capability in Australian sport. Sport Australia invests in national sporting organisations, including organisations for people with a disability, to champion the value of sport and encourage Australians of all backgrounds, ages, and abilities to get involved in sport. Sport Australia is focused on improving the capability of sporting organisations to create an effective and sustainable national sport sector.

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