The year in women's sport

2015 has been a stellar year for women's sport in Australia. We spoke to some female athletes and women's sport professionals to re-live a brilliant year.

Ann Odong - Editor in Chief of The Women’s Game

Best team performance: Oh this is a tough one but I would split it between netball's Diamonds and cricket's Southern Stars. Both teams defeated Australia's closest rivals, New Zealand and England respectively, to claim international trophies. For the Diamonds, there was also the added pressure of being the favourite and on home soil.

Honourable mention to football's Matildas, who continue to lead the way in terms of national teams. Drawn in the hardest group in the 2015 FIFA Women's World Cup, their performances won over more supporters and continue to make Australian football history.

Best individual performance: So many great performances in 2015 including Bronte Campbell (swimming), Emily Seebohm (swimming) and Anna Meares (cycling) but have to go with Michelle Payne. It was a great ride against world class jockeys and she challenged perceptions of women in sport.

Off-field highlight: The increased television coverage of women's sport. It has been so heartening to see that sports and media organisations are investing and recognising the value of women's sport.

The FIFA Women's World Cup, the Netball World Cup and Women's Big Bash League are all showing what we have been saying all along; there is a market, if you market.

Your bold prediction for women’s sport in 2016: That women will continue to fly the flag in 2016 and lead the Olympics medal tally – including a Matildas gold medal.

Loudy Wiggins - Australian Olympic Diver

Best team performance: The Diamonds winning the 2015 Netball World Cup.

Best individual performance: Jockey Michelle Payne for her 2015 Melbourne Cup win.

Off-field highlight: Again, Michelle Payne and her post race interview. I don’t care that it got analysed to bits, but she spoke from the heart and didn’t play the game, I love that!

Your bold prediction for women’s sport in 2016: Women’s AFL teams gaining a large and deserved following!

Aasta O’Connor - Western Bulldogs/Darebin Falcons Footballer

Best team performance: Has to be the Matildas efforts in the 2015 FIFA Women's World Cup. I’m not a huge soccer fan, but I found myself hooked and following the Aussie girls throughout the world cup.

Best individual performance: I know will be accused of being biased here, but the clinic put on by Darcy Vescio from the Darebin Falcons in this year's VWFL Grand Final was awesome to watch. Darc is such a humble person, amazingly talented and always puts her team first, and now she is a Lisa Hardeman medallist!

Off-field highlight: Watching Daisy Pearce and Taylor Harris present awards at this year's Brownlow Medal. What a statement by the AFL. For me as a little girl growing up playing and watching footy it was all about the boys. Fast forward to 2015 and Female Football is now common place in the AFL.

Your bold prediction for women’s sport in 2016: In the words of 80s pop singer Yazz, “The only way is up!”

Alison Smirnoff - Founder of Change Her Game

Best team performance: This is so hard to split, so I’m going to cheat and say the Diamonds World Cup victory, the Southern Stars claiming the Ashes and the Matildas’ performance at the 2015 FIFA women’s world cup.

Honourable mentions to the Aussie 7s team and Melbourne City’s W-League season to date.

Best individual performance: I would have to say Daisy Pearce’s 2015 season. She captained both her local club, the Darebin Falcons, to a premiership victory and Melbourne to a series victory over the Western Bulldogs - claiming a best-on-ground medal in the second match in the process. At club level, she was named captain of Darebin’s Silver Jubilee team, claimed yet another best & fairest and was awarded life membership. She also became the inaugural recipient of Melbourne FC’s best female player award AND claimed a record-breaking sixth VWFL Best and Fairest award. Absolute champion.

Off-field highlight: For me, the live free-to-air telecast of the women’s AFL exhibition match. The flow-on effects and the general interest in women’s AFL has been incredible.

Again, honourable mentions to Michelle Payne’s “get stuffed” speech and the Matildas industrial action for putting pay inequity on the agenda.

Your bold prediction for women’s sport in 2016: Mainstream networks and big name brands will get serious about covering and supporting female athletes.

Melissa Hickey - Melbourne FC/Darebin Falcons Footballer

Best team performance: So many to choose from, the Matilda's World Cup efforts, Australian Diamonds winning another World Cup, the Southern Stars dominating the Ashes but my bias will see that the AFL win with the history making first free to air televised match between the Melbourne Demons and Western Bulldogs in August with the mighty Demons holding on to win 4 games in a row.

Best individual performance: Katie Brennan bringing her team back into the match in the August televised match when they were well behind. She brought her team back by kicking 4 goals and lifting the momentum and work rate of her team. A true champion of women's AFL.

Off-field highlight: Michelle Payne saying after her historic victory: "get stuffed, because women can do anything." I think this summed up women's sport of 2015.

Your bold prediction for women’s sport in 2016: Women's sport will continue to come along in leaps and bounds with more exposure in the media and more opportunities for female athletes. It's an incredibly exciting time with so much momentum from the fantastic performances by female athletes this year.

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