If we thought 2015 was a huge year in women’s sport in Australia, then 2016 is sure to be even bigger! No doubt most of the focus will be on the Rio Olympics, which begin in August; however, let’s have a look at some of the major events on the first few months of the 2016 sporting calendar.
Basketball – The 2015/16 WNBL season has been in full swing since early October. At the time of writing Perth Lynx, with the Sydney Uni Flames hot on their heels, are on top of the table with five rounds remaining.
This season, the WNBL Championship will be decided in a best of three series, changing from a one-off game format. The Wattle Valley WNBL Championship Finals Series will begin on March 12, with game two scheduled for March 18. A third game if necessary will be played with a 48-hour turnaround on March 20.
The Opals, meanwhile, are in Rio for a test event where they will face teams from Brazil, Argentina and Venezuela in matches on January 15, 16 & 17. The event will provide a fantastic opportunity for the Opals to familiarise themselves with the Olympic venue ahead of the Games.
After the test event, the Opals will reconvene on home soil for training camps in March and April, before heading overseas again for tours of Japan and Europe. Then, of course, it’s back to Rio in August for the Olympics.
Cricket – Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you would have seen and/or heard of the great success of the inaugural Rebel Women’s Big Bash League. We’re now heading into the pointy end of the season, with final to be played on Sunday 24 January. The match will be broadcast LIVE on Network Ten.
After the WBBL, the Southern Stars will host a T20 and ODI series against India beginning on Australia Day; then it’s off to New Zealand for a limited overs series in February.
All of this will be in preparation for the Women’s World T20 Title in India beginning on 15 March. The Southern Stars have been drawn in Group A along with South Africa, New Zealand, Sri Lanka and Ireland. They will kick off their campaign on 18 March against South Africa.
Cycling – The Santos Women’s Tour, which is part of the Tour Down Under, is back for its second year. The Women’s Tour has been granted international status by the UCI and is now a 2.2 class event. The tour begins in Adelaide on 16 January.
The 2015/16 UCI Track Cycling World Cup concludes this month, with the final event being held in Hong Kong on 16 & 17 January.
Football – There promises to be an exciting finish to the W-League season. With just one round remaining, there will be a three-way battle to secure the fourth spot on the ladder and earn a semi final berth. Brand new team, Melbourne City, have absolutely dominated the competition, stitching up top spot and the premiership just after Christmas. Canberra United and Sydney FC have secured second and third place respectively. While Brisbane Roar, Adelaide United and the Newcastle Jets are all in the mix for fourth. The semi finals will take place on 24 and 25 January with the Grand Final to be played on Sunday 31 January.
Next on the agenda for the Matildas are the all-important Olympic qualifiers. The AFC Women’s Olympic Football Tournament will see six teams vying for just two Olympic spots. The tournament will take place in Osaka, with the Matildas facing host nation Japan, then Vietnam, Korea Republic, DPR Korea and China in the space of just 10 days. The Matildas’ opening match against Japan is on Monday 29 February at Kincho Stadium, Osaka. Kick off time 7:35pm (9:35pm AEDT).
Golf – The 2016 LPGA tour has already begun and runs until late November. One of the early events on the calendar is the Australian Open, which will be held at The Grange Golf Club in Adelaide from 18-21 February.
World number one Lydia Ko, along with Australia’s top-ranked players Minjee Lee and Karrie Webb have already committed to the event, in what should be a star-studded field.
Hockey – Having qualified for the Olympics our Hockeyroos have a solid schedule in the lead-up to Rio. They are currently in Singapore for a training camp and a tri-series against the Netherlands and Germany beginning 18 January.
Test matches against Great Britain in Western Australia in February and the Hawkes Bay Cup in New Zealand in April will follow. They will also play some matches in Darwin (details are still to be confirmed) plus the Champions Trophy (if they receive an invitation) in London in June. No doubt the Hockeyroos will be well prepared for the Games.
Netball – Our best netballing talent will be back in action soon with the ANZ Championships set to begin on 1 April.
Before that though, our World Cup winning Diamonds are off to England to participate in a three-match tour against the England Roses on January 20, 22 and 24.
Rugby – The second leg of the 2015/16 Women’s Sevens World Series will be held in Sao Paulo, Brazil on 20 & 21 February. Our women's sevens team will be looking to back up their title win in Dubai in December. Prior to Sao Paulo, two women’s exhibition matches will be held at the Sydney Men’s Sevens tournament on the 6 & 7 February. The World Sevens Series concludes in May; then it's off to Rio for the Olympics.
At time of writing, the Wallaroos, our national rugby union team, have no internationals planned for the first portion of 2016. With the Women’s Rugby World cup on the horizon in 2017, no doubt preparations will intensify in the second half of this year.
Our rugby league team, the Jillaroos, will take on the Kiwi Ferns in a three-match series at the Auckland Nines on 6 & 7 February.
Last December the NRL also announced the Women’s and Indigenous Women’s All Stars teams to compete at the Harvey Norman Rugby League All Stars match in Brisbane on 13 February.
Surfing – The World Surf League’s 2016 Women’s Samsung Galaxy Championship Tour begins in Australia in March. Make sure you check out the world’s top surfing talent on the Australian leg of the tour:
Roxy Pro Gold Coast – March 10-2, Gold Coast, Queensland
Rip Curl Pro Bells Beach – March 24 to April 5, Bells Beach, Victoria.
Drug Aware Margaret River Pro – April 8-19, Margaret River, Western Australia.
Tennis – The WTA tour has begun and January provides plenty of tennis action on our shores. Lead-up events, the Brisbane International and the ITF Hopman Cup are already completed and the Sydney International concludes in 15 January. All focus then shifts to Melbourne for the Australian Open, the Grand Slam of the Asia-Pacific. Watch the world’s best in women’s tennis from 18-31 January.
Australian Rules Football – While there won’t be any competitive matches until April, the AFL announced in December that they would be embarking on a national talent search in the early months of 2016. Spearheaded by Melbourne & Darebin Falcons captain, Daisy Pearce, the campaign is designed to give female athletes currently active in other sports the opportunity to try their hand at AFL. That’s right, the AFL talent poach is on! Who will be the next Brianna Davey?
Have we missed your favourite sport? Let us know and we'll add it to the list. #ChangeHerGame