The Power of Women in Sport – a Dragon Boat Coach Perspective

Matildas' Goal Keeper Mackenzie Arnold with her family
Matildas’ Goal Keeper Mackenzie Arnold with her family

I’m writing this blog off the back of the last Matilda’s game of the Women’s World Cup, ecstatic to see such amazing athletes finally getting the limelight they deserve. There is no denying the shift in perception of women’s sport as these athletes demonstrate strength, aggression, and skill; as well as support, sportsmanship, and motherhood.

Scenes of post-match victories shared with daughters on the field and close-ups of excited girls in the crowd have made me feel so proud and hopeful.  These female traits are no longer considered weaknesses or inferior, but beneficial in a special mix that’s here to stay.

Amanda Furse

As a coach for the Yarra River Dragons (YRD), I reflect on what a privilege it’s been to work with a variety of women over the years. I never get tired of seeing the switch when a woman gains self-belief in their strength and ability, and realise it’s ok for women to be aggressive and competitive in certain situations.

We have seen the magic when women lift each other, build confidence, and work together with incredible results. The bond that develops through this shared experience is one of lifetime closeness and family and this new attitude is taken into other aspects of life.

While it’s hard to pick a favorite race, I do love a 2000 m because it’s a story that unfolds in front of the team. In order to be successful you must have absolute trust that no one will back off at any moment. I remember a race in Albury when the team was relatively new together. Our sweep and coach Eliza told us to go “feral”, to really go for it, which everyone committed to. It was amazing to feel the surge as we all worked together.

We have seen the magic when women lift each other, build confidence, and work together with incredible results.


This commitment to each other has created a YRD women’s crew that is a force to be reckoned with. Achieving podium level since 2015, 3 Gold clean sweeps across all distances at Nationals, and a bronze medal at Worlds in Hungary 2018. In my paddling career, I have won most of my medals in women’s crew at club, State, and Australian National level and made some of the best friends I have ever had in my life – sharing career successes, weddings, and the arrival of children together! Paddling with and coaching these women has been an incredible experience.

YRDs are now looking to take to the world stage again, this time in Italy, and I’m hoping the Matilda’s will encourage women to come forward and join us to realise their potential. We certainly can’t wait to meet you, so come and join us at our next Open Day, or keep an eye on our Facebook or Instagram.

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