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Breaking barriers in sport

By Jake Beleski

[email protected]

Catherine Rossiter-Stead continues to break down the barriers facing women in sports administration in this country.

She was the first woman appointed to the Wairarapa-Bush Rugby Union Board, and on Sunday she became just the second woman on the Central Districts Cricket Board after being invited to apply by New Zealand Cricket.

The process had started last year, she said.

“About a year ago I was shoulder-tapped by NZ Cricket who invited me to apply to move onto the board.

“The AGM was this weekend and I’ve been through a thorough board appointment process.

“I was interviewed by an independent panel and the associations around the region then had to vote on my nomination.”

There were a number of reasons NZ Cricket was keen to have Rossiter-Stead on board.

“One reason was they were looking for someone with marketing and communications experience, particularly around sport,” she said.

“I was the media manager for the [Central] Pulse netball team for four seasons and I’m currently a senior media advisor at Sport NZ – I bring a lot of experience from PR and events as well.”

The other reason was more straightforward – “I’m a woman and I champion girls sport”.

Becoming the first woman on a sport’s board is nothing new to Rossiter-Stead, who had previously been heavily involved with sport in the UK.

“Twenty years ago I was appointed to the North Midlands Rugby Board, which was unheard of in England for a woman to be appointed to a large regional rugby union.

“That was my first experience with being the first woman on a sports board.”

There were many issues she would encounter in her new role with CD, she said.

“You’re responsible for making sure that the strategic direction of the organisation is a good one.

“It’s a very large region – it’s unique and covers an area from Hawke’s Bay and Taranaki, down to Nelson and Marlborough.

“It’s the only region that covers two islands, so they have a lot of geographical challenges.”

As for keeping up with so many roles and important jobs, she had a simple solution.

“There’s challenges but you manage your time.

“I think there are times with your family when they’re very busy, and we have three children so weekends are very busy playing different sports, but if you’re organised and work hard it’s much easier.”

Cricket runs in the Rossiter-Stead family, her husband Sam is the Chairman of the Wairarapa Cricket Association and her two daughters Anna and Amy play for Solway College 1st XI, with Amy also following in her elder sister’s footsteps and representing Wairarapa U15s.

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