An Australian program empowering girls in STEM fields using drones is making waves in the world of women’s baseball by pioneering equality and empowerment for female athletes in Indonesia.
She Maps secured a second round of funding through the Australian Government’s Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT) to run a combined drone and baseball program in collaboration with the Diamonds in the Rough (DITR) program, supported by Baseball Australia.
Led by Australian baseball champion, Narelle Gosstray and a group of dedicated Australian and Indonesian coaches and advocates, Diamonds in the Rough aims to provide equal access and encourage female participation in baseball in Indonesia.
“The program has identified and nurtured talented Indonesian girls, creating opportunities for them to develop and showcase their skills on a global stage,” said Ms Gosstray.
“A key component of the program is equality, respect, and leadership, which is supported by the NO MORE Campaign aimed at ending family violence.”
The success of this collaboration is evident in the recent achievements of the Indonesian Women’s Baseball Team, who competed in the 3rd Women’s Baseball Asian Cup held in Hong Kong, China from 21-30 May, 2023.
Despite facing tough competition, the team secured their first-ever ranking points and finished eighth out of 12 teams. This remarkable accomplishment is a testament to the transformative shift that has taken place in women’s baseball in Indonesia, with the Diamonds in the Rough program playing a pivotal role in the team’s formation.
The inaugural program took place in Jakarta in February 2016, with two players from that program now being part of this groundbreaking team.
This all led to the formation of a girls team that competed in a series of friendly games in Brisbane in 2017, and then the Australian Youth Championships in Canberra in 2019. Seven players from the 2019 team competed in this Asian Cup.
The initial funding for the program enabled two more successful programs in 2017 and 2018.
Building on these achievements, Paul Mead, co-founder of She Maps and supporter of the Diamonds in the Rough program since inception, secured additional funding through DFAT to run a combined drone and baseball program in Indonesia.
The first program under this funding was conducted in 2020 just before the COVID-19 pandemic struck.
The second and final program under this funding occurred at the end of June 2023, returning to Bali to expand on previous work and expanding to Surabaya at the request of the Indonesian Federation, as the Indonesian Junior Girls National Championships will be held there in August this year.
“The Diamonds in the Rough group was made up of three coaches who have previously represented Australia, and been passionate DITR supporters on previous trips,” said Ms Gosstray.
“She Maps Education Lead, Katie Vidal lead the drone programs for this event. Katie has been with She Maps for five years and is a passionate educator.
“The team delivered drone, baseball and leadership workshops in Surabaya on the 30th of June and 1st of July to youth girls. They then travelled to Bali and delivered programs to a university staff and student cohort – drones for students and personal development for the teachers, and then drone, baseball, and leadership workshops to youth girls.
“Bali age group focused on 9-10 year olds as entry level, and 13-15 year olds who have been part of previous programs. The Surabaya cohort comprised 80 per cent beginners between the ages of 10-16.”
Mr Mead became a part of the inspiring initiative over a shared love of sport and desire of levelling the playing field for young women in both the sporting and STEM arena.
“I worked with Narelle at the Department of Sport and Recreation when I was in Darwin in 2013,” said Mr Mead.
“We had a shared interest in making sport better. Narelle is very active in baseball, and I was working across a number of sports at the time after I left the Northern Territory Government.
“I was involved in the Conference of Indonesian and Australian Youth in 2015 when it was hosted in Darwin, and Narelle and I got talking and the idea of DITR and doing something in Indonesia came about.”
Ms Gosstray acknowledged the importance of She Maps’ input to the DITR program, “To add in a STEM component to our program moves us into a holistic personal development program, preparing the participants for their future off the field.”
Moving forward, the Indonesian team has set its sights on new goals for 2024, including having women’s baseball included in the Indonesian National Sports Week (Pekan Olahraga Nasional – PON) and participating again in the Australian Youth Women’s Championships.