You’d be hard-pressed to find anyone in Australia (heck, maybe even the world) doing more for women’s sport than Alex Saundry. The 26-year-old is an ex-AFLW player and the founder of the sports management agency More Than Management. And she is undoubtedly putting in the extra sweat. Fuelled by integrity, determination, a passion for building strong relationships, and a dedication to women’s sport far greater than anyone we’ve ever come across, Alex is the embodiment of this year’s International Women’s Day theme, Worth the Extra Sweat.
Whether it’s literally or figuratively, women world-wide are putting in the extra sweat to achieve the same milestones as men. That extra effort is all too familiar to Alex but it’s what’s helping to move the needle towards a more equal future, not only in sport, but in every field the world over. Ahead of International Women’s Day on the 8th of March, we were lucky enough to sit down with Alex and talk to her about her career, what putting in the extra sweat looks like for her, and the future of not only her career but women’s sport in Australia.
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The beginnings of a promising career:
The roots of Alex’s success were firmly grounded during her schooling years. In her senior years, she was not only the School Captain, but the House Captain and the captain of all seven of the sporting teams she participated in (rowing, soccer, netball, football and the list goes on). This was where Alex discovered her passion for leadership, and although she was only 17, she made herself a solid five year plan that would combine that passion with sport and business.
I wanted to lead people and be a part of people’s journeys,” says Alex.
The ultimate goal was to one day work for the AFL. It was a huge plan, but with integrity as her superpower, and values like honesty and respect instilled by her parents, Alex was on her way to turning it into a reality.
Meeting her mentor:
After school, Alex moved into coaching several different teams including her high school’s rowing team. It was through that role that Alex was lucky enough to be introduced to her idol, Paul Connors, who quickly offered her an internship and became her mentor and eventually her boss. Alex became a sought-after player manager working for Connors Sports Management, while simultaneously playing in the AFLW for the Greater Western Sydney Giants. It was around this time that her passion for women in sport truly developed.
First female signings:
Alex’s first female signing was Daisy Pierce, followed closely by Katie Brennan. Despite the fact that the women’s league hadn’t even started yet, Alex could see big futures for these athletes and signed them to Connors Sports Management. Soon after, Alex signed more of the game’s greatest names; the Hosking Twins, Tayla Harris and Darcy Vescio. A dedicated player manager is crucial in developing the careers of female athletes, thus developing women’s sport in general. It was Alex’s keen eye and passion for supporting women in the game that helped push AFLW forward.
More than management:
After injuring herself in a game for the Giants, Alex found herself physically and emotionally drained from juggling the game and time in the office. With Paul Connor’s blessing, Alex resigned with the plan to start her own agency where she would give female athletes, ‘a platform and a business to have the time they deserved afforded to them.’ Of course there were many hurdles ahead of Alex, one being the pay disparity between male and female athletes.
"The guys train hard and work hard, there’s no doubt about that. But I don’t think they feel a sense of obligation to get more viewers on board, to sell the idea of football, like the girls do. “It’s not saying we should be given things on a silver platter, but being given the opportunities and being the people we are is the most important thing,” Alex says.
Positivity in the face of inequality:
But her commitment and positive attitude meant these types of issues were never going to stop her. In fact, being a woman is something that has only pushed Alex to be better.
The best thing about being a woman is having determination and motivation to implement change in certain areas. My motto with everything is ‘why wait for it to happen?’ “I’m of the opinion that if you want to play footy and you want to work in this space – and if I want to manage in this space – then you’ve got to make it happen. You can’t rely on others. I think everyone makes a genuine sacrifice for a passion they’ve got,” she says.
That’s why Alex is there day-in-day out in her agency supporting the players with contracts, finance, social media, commercial deals and the list goes on – meaning the agency truly lives up to its name; More Than Management. There’s no normal day for Alex and her phone doesn’t stop ringing but she wouldn't want it any other way.
“I want to help the competition go from strength to strength, player and performance wise but commercially as well.”
The future is bright:
Through her management, but also the care she has for the players, Alex is pushing women’s AFL and women’s sport in general forward in many positive ways. But if she had advice to her younger self? Alex says she would stop and smell the roses and appreciate the achievements a little more.
And when it comes to the future of football Alex says it’s the grassroots level that requires the most attention and investment, while personally supporting the girls and women on and off the track, field, where ever to be better athletes.
So what’s in store for the future?
“My next phase would be enlisting a great team around me to achieve bigger and better things and become a powerhouse in women’s sport.”
We’ll be here cheering you on, Alex.
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