Female athletes can 'learn from the men'

Adrian Warren

Olympic rowing gold medallist Kim Brennan believes the emerging cluster of women's professional sporting competitions can learn lessons from the male codes and set up a better balance between life and sport.

New competitions like the AFLW, WBBL and Super Netball are garnering plenty of coverage and support.

Like their male counterparts, the female athletes will be faced with the challenge of how they transition out of a sporting career.

"I think they have the opportunity to learn a lot from the professional men's sporting codes that have come before them," Brennan told AAP.

"In some ways, the men's sporting codes have gone full circle.

"They were amateur and people were working at the same time as playing sport.

"They became fully professional; people stopped doing anything (else).

"Then they realised we produce better athletes and better performances when we have happier, more balanced people.

"Now a lot of the professional codes are thinking about that a lot more and really investing in sport-life balance.

"I think female professional sport has the advantage of having those learnings already been learnt by the organisations so they can set it up better.

"So moving very quickly from amateur to professional can still retain that ability to have a dual pathway."

Brennan on Friday participated in the Crossing the Line Summit, which discussed athletes' mental health and identity.

Among numerous other sporting identities involved were Olympic diving gold medallist Matthew Mitcham, former Wallabies prop Al Baxter and Sydney AFL premiership ruckman Mike Pyke.

"I think it's been really insightful," Brennan said.

"There's probably three things coming out of today.

"The first one, athletes are humans, so the full spectrum of human emotions that apply to anyone in the community also apply to athletes.

"Athletes are also going to experience mental health issues and it's okay to talk about it and should be encouraged to talk about it.

"I think in the identity piece, starting the conversation about who you are without your sport, right from the beginning of a sporting career.

"Probably the third one is exploring ways we can actually measure progress in this space."