Inspiring people to get behind the women’s sports events coming to our shores this year is Chantal Bakersmith’s mission.
Chantal “Shorty” Bakersmith is putting her money where her mouth is. The Rugby World Cup team liaison knows every bit counts in making a difference in shifting the perception of women’s sport. So she’s going all in. She has subscribed to Sky Sport to watch the ICC Women’s Cricket World Cup and reads articles about the athletes, sparking conversations among her family and friends about gender equity in sport.
She admits that prior to the Women’s Cricket World Cup, which was the first of the four big events to grace our stadiums and screens this year, she had never watched the White Ferns. “But I got drawn into the characters. I knew it was important for me as a sportswoman to support the kaupapa [philosophy] of equity in women’s sport.”
Chantal, 42, leadership lecturer at Te Whare Wānanga O Wairaka (Unitec), was first inspired to get into rugby by her whānau. After being involved in the game for more than half her life, serving in all types of roles from playing and coaching to being an administrator, she has rugby woven into her core.
“As tamariki, that classic Kiwi story of coming together marae-style in the lounge with my grandparents, parents, and siblings in the early hours of the morning to watch the All Blacks is one of my first memories of rugby,” says Chantal. “Staying involved in rugby is based around helping people. That’s a core value of mine, it’s embedded in my kaupapa, which I think comes from my parents and whānau.”
It also shows in Chantal’s recent oral history research project, “The Tale of the Rugby Ball and Me”, in which she interviews women who have given to the game.
The decision by World Rugby to include the 1991 and 1994 RWC winning teams on the trophy is very special, she says. America will be down as the first winners and England will feature twice. “To have those teams put on there adds to the true whakapapa of the cup,” she says.
Chantal will continue to add to her kaupapa as a RWC team liaison for visiting teams, a role she has played for other competitions. “When I’m in that liaison role, I want to do it the best I can to help those people. The other thing I love doing is showing them ‘this is my city’. Tāmaki Makaurau is my home and I want to show them the amazing things we have here.”
Before the match, Chantal, her wife, Rhyannon, and their son, Kit, will catch a train to either Morningside or Kingsland. The Morningside Tavern offers great food and drink. “The other option is getting off at Kingsland and going to Portland Public House,” she says. For other great dining spots recommended by locals, see iconiceats.co.nz.
Chantal also recommends getting out and about on one of the city’s many volcanoes. “There are 53 maunga,” she says. “You’ve got Mt. Albert Ōwairaka and Maungawhau, which is Mt. Eden, and that’s really special because you get to see the crater. It’s also special because you see the view of Auckland City, including Eden Park and Rangitoto.”
She says the Auckland War Memorial Museum Tāmaki Paenga Hira and Auckland Art Gallery Toi o Tāmaki are great wet-weather options.
For her, it’s easy to see why people should come to the RWC. “First, you get to watch the best in the world. Second, you get to support women’s sports and the kaupapa of gender equity. And lastly, it’s being hosted in Tāmaki Makaurau.”