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PETER TAVENDER,
SECRETARY, AUSTRALIAN CROQUET ASSOCIATION


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"The ACA and most states have Open, Men's, and Women's events - which is questionable in a time of complete equality; however, because the women are so far behind the top men, I cannot foresee any change..."

It might be useful to examine the history of the involvement of women in competitive croquet in Australia. When our interstate teams started they were was up of 4 players from each state (mainly women but over time more and more men). In 1982 the event was changed to have teams of 4 men and 4 women. The event is made up of 8 singles games and 4 doubles (men play men, and women play women).

During the National Championships we have a Players Meeting which is basically a vehicle for players to comment on the running of the Championships, although other matters do get raised. It has no formal status, and the ACA's Annual Meeting is still the body which can change the regulations etc; however, an ACA Executive who is 'on the ball' should obviously be willing to listen to the players. The current format (block play followed by knockout rather than the previous 2-life) was a direct result of cooperation between the Players meeting and my predecessor as secretary of the ACA. (The Players Meeting also suggested that the doubles be mixed, but this was rejected the following year.)

There is a small cell of women in Australia pushing for greater involvement at the international level. (If I was cynical I might say that they want to get more trips away!). We already have one Ladies Test against New Zealand played every 2 years. The other Test against New Zealand is an Open in which women can participate, but frankly our women are just not good enough. If you look at our MacRobertson Shield teams since WW2 you see a clear trend:

1963 5 women and 2 men
1969 (played in Australia) 5 women and 6 men
1974 6 men
1979 3 women and 3 men
1982, 86, 90, 93, 96 6 men

The ACA and most States have Open, Men's and Women's events - which is questionable at a time of complete equality; however, because the women are so far behind the top men, I cannot see any change such as doing away with the Mens and Womens and expanding the Open.

You need to remember of course that 75% of the players in Australia are women; I think the ratio in New Zealand is similar, but in England it is only about 25%!

Why are there not more women at the top level? I have heard the argument that men use the right side of their brain (mechanical) which would be best for croquet, whereas women tend to use their left side (artistic). I do not know the answer to that one.

--Peter Tavender

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