Without role models at an elite level, there might not be any female athletes.

And that is exactly what the Australian Ultimate League provides aspiring young women – and what drives Perth Power‘s Ash McInnes.

The 26-year-old from Brisbane spent 2018 with the Breakers.

But she will line up for the Power this AUL season after a stint playing in the 2019 Asia Oceanic Ultimate and Guts Championships with the Australian Barramundis.

Ash is a dedicated mixed gender athlete and doesn’t take her role with the Power for granted.

“Visibility is so incredibly important,” she said.

“If young women can’t see role models, they are less likely to progress in sport.”

Mixed gender sport should be the pinnacle

Ash said mixed Ultimate was once regarded as teams for those not good enough to crack men’s and women’s sides.

That has all changed with the launch of the AUL in 2018, with mixed gender elite teams now the pinnacle of Australian competition.

“The AUL is a format that really shows why it is really important that mixed gender competition is young players’ first introduction to the sport,” Ash said.

“If we taught people how to play mixed Ultimate well, that is going to resolve a lot of issues around being able to retain women in sport.”

The differences in skills

Mixed gender Ultimate is not just about putting equal numbers of men and women on the field.

There are obvious differences in the style of play and being an all-rounder is a prized skill.

Ash is one of those players, strong enough and fast enough to be in position defensively.
Conservative and smart enough to control the tempo of a match. Versatile enough to change her game completely on the fly.

“In women’s divisions, players have a specialised role,” she said.

“But in mixed games, you could potentially have males who can (change position on the field). You have to be able to cover that, become more versatile.

“You have to be able to move out of your prescribed role.”