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Office of Sport

NSW celebrates the sporting leaders empowering women

Published: 23 May 2023

NSW continues to lead the way in creating a brighter future for women in sport and never has this been more evident than through the incredible array of winners celebrated at the Her Sport Her Way Awards today.

From champion administrators who are paving the way for future generations through to a trailblazing Paralympian, and a 13-year-old who has created her own platform to showcase female athletes, this year’s winners are a diverse and exciting group.

The awards recognise the people, clubs and organisations that are giving women and girls more opportunities to participate in sport and aim to highlight the important work they are doing in this space.

Cricket NSW’s Female, Diversity & Inclusion Manager Julie Stafford and Basketball NSW’s CEO Maria Nordstrom shared the honours as the Her Sport Her Way Champion – the ceremony’s pinnacle award.

Julie has been a key figure in driving the growth of female participation in cricket across NSW since 2014, developing the Cricket NSW Female Strategy and Action Plan in 2022, and has seen Junior Girls Cricket grow by 20% last year. Julie is also focusing her efforts off the pitch, setting up WiCKETS Women in Cricket Communities, an online community that hosts forums and networking events connecting local volunteers and encouraging more women to join committees.

Maria Nordstrom has been the Chief Executive Officer of Basketball NSW for over six years, was a Director of the Local Organising Committee and led the Legacy Committee for the FIBA Women’s Basketball World Cup hosted in Sydney last September. Maria has been instrumental in increasing access and participation for women in basketball across the state, including in regional and remote areas.

The Awards also recognised the contributions of young people and former athletes who are working to create lasting change. 13-year-old Abbie, a sports journalist who created her own online platform to champion women’s sport, was this year’s youngest winner. Australia’s most decorated female Paralympian Ellie Cole OAM was among the Trailblazers honoured for her work outside of the pool in leadership roles that have been instrumental in ensuring higher levels of equality between able bodied and Paralympic athletes.

The full list of winners can be seen below.

  • Local Champion- Anu Bedi, Owner and Operator, Swimz Guildford.
  • Local Champion- Pam Abel, Senior Activities Officer,PCYC.
  • Outstanding Organisation- John Tsatsimas, CEO, Football NSW.
  • Trailblazers- Ellie Cole OAM. Paralympic Champion, Swimming NSW
  • Trailblazers- Suzy Ellis, Tennis Administrator and Coach, Suzy Ellis School of Tennis
  • Trailblazers- Hayley Todd, Head of Women’s and Schools Football, Football NSW
  • Young Achiever- Abbie, Sports Journalist, Her Way
  • Champion- Julie Stafford, Female, Diversity and Inclusion Manager, Cricket NSW
  • Champion- Maria Nordstrom, CEO, Basketball NSW

For more information on the Her Sport Her Way program and to see past winners, please visit:

NSW Minister for Sport, Steve Kamper said:
“There are countless wonderful people that work and volunteer across NSW sports organisations and it was an honour today to recognise the work being done to make sure no girl or women faces barriers to participation.”

“The five categories show that you can have an impact on every single level, from grassroots to the elite level, regardless of your age. I congratulate all the winners and nominees and look forward to seeing the amazing things that they continue to achieve and the positive legacy they leave.”

NSW Minister for Women, Jodie Harrison said:
“Events such as the Her Sport Her Way Awards are the ideal place for girls and women to look around and see that their contribution to sport is welcomed and valued. Sport has the ability to bring people together in a way like no other, and provides unforgettable experiences, lasting connections and the chance to go beyond greatness in every form, which is why I’m so glad to see such an increase in female participation and recognition.”
“The surge in public recognition of women in sport in recent years has driven huge increases of female participation is sports, which is fabulous for individuals and communities and society more broadly. Congratulations to all the winners and nominees – you are an inspiration to girls and women everywhere.”

Trailblazers Award Winner, Ellie Cole OAM said:
“I am honoured to receive this Award alongside Suzy and Hayley. While I am extremely proud of my success in the pool I hope my work out of it will continue to champion change for women and girls in swimming in Australia.”

Champion Award Winner, Julie Stafford said:
“Winning this Award means a lot. It represents the hard work of all my colleagues, both at Cricket and across all other sports, to champion opportunities and deliver sporting programs for women and girls.”

Champion Award Winner, Maria Nordstrom said:
“Like raising a child, it takes a village to create and run successful programs and I would like to recognise the hard work of the dedicated team at Basketball New South Wales. To me, we are all Champions.”

“The power of our key message, ‘I am a Girl and we can do anything!’, will have a lasting legacy of empowering girls on the basketball court and beyond.”

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