Debbie Hodges loves watching people succeed
Debbie Hodges was one of the founding members of Women in Sport Murihiku, the first regional branch of Women in Sport Aotearoa, which aims to ensure Southland’s women and girls are valued, visible and influential in sport.
I am proud to be known as a born and bred Southlander.
Family-driven and professional in my approach to virtually everything I do, I have been married to Keith for over 30 years and have one teenage son, Sam.
I am the Administration and Operations Manager for the iconic Invercargill retailer, E Hayes & Sons - New Zealand’s largest and arguably most diverse, independently-owned hardware store and I’ve worked here in various roles for over 35 years.
I am currently a Director on the Board of Netball New Zealand and Deputy Chair on the Hammer Hardware NZ Ltd Board.
People say I am passionate about everything I do - what they probably mean is that I am a perfectionist because no matter what I am involved in, I like to see it done RIGHT. But it’s not just for its own sake. I like to see people succeed, whether that’s personally, in business, in sport, or whatever.
It’s one of the reasons I immerse myself in everything I do - whether it’s driving the competitive retail business success of the company or shouting encouragement to my chosen team from the side line.
I have always held a great passion for netball. My involvement in the sport began as a young girl at home and grew over the years into playing, coaching, managing, administrating and more recently governance.
In 2014 I was elected onto the Board of Netball New Zealand, giving me a chance to play an integral role in the future development and growth of our sport in New Zealand. Personally I have always felt honoured and humbled by this opportunity.
I have been blessed with good friends and a strong, supportive family, but two people in particular stand out. Firstly my patient, understanding and (at times) quite level-headed husband Keith.
As well as keeping the ‘home-fires burning’ his support and encouragement has given me the emotional security and personal confidence I have needed to succeed. Second would have to be my employer, Neville Hayes. As both my employer and someone I count as a close and valued personal friend, Neville has supported and encouraged my professional growth both inside the company and outside in the business and sporting world.
I first started playing competitive netball at the age of 10, playing in a very small rural club. My mother also played in the same team which was quite funny - it was the only time I could call her by her first name on the netball court!
Early on I had a netball tournament to play in called the Moffett Cup, which is a compilation of local primary schools and multiple sports on offer. But during a soccer game at lunch time the week prior to the tournament I broke my foot and couldn’t take part. It was one of my earliest experiences dealing with personal disappointment in sport.
I have been very fortunate to have had many opportunities in relation to netball - I have a three favourite memories - all for different reasons.
The 2018 ANZ Premiership final in Palmerston North – Southern Steel vs Central Pulse – Steel had been down by 11 at one stage and managed to get the win in the dying seconds – was one of the most exciting games of netball I have been to - this memory is purely one driven by the result and the grit and determination NOT TO GIVE IN that entire team showed
The 1999 Netball World Cup in Christchurch – NZ vs Australia – NZ lost by 41-42 but it was a game I will never forget.
The Southern Sting era, from 1998-2007 – I was involved in the background of the development this franchise. It was a credit to all those involved and to get the results that we did was amazing – I was fortunate enough to attend both finals 2006 (Hamilton) and 2007 (Auckland)
Sport has given so much to me over the past 40 years. To me sport is not just about playing the game, its a host of other things.
It’s about friendship, connections and the community. It’s about life skills and healthy lifestyles, building self esteem and leadership, breaking down barriers between cultures and empowering women - a positive alternative to the daily routine.
In 2016 I was lucky enough to be accepted into the Sport New Zealand Women in Governance Mentoring programme – this has been invaluable to both my growth in governance and for personal confidence.
I feel strongly from my dealings in various sports administration roles over the years, that women are grossly underrepresented in the leadership and governance of sporting organizations. I believe that this imbalance has a negative effect throughout the sporting sector and serves to encourage a misrepresentation of the opportunities available within women’s sport - from grass-roots player level right up to governance and leadership.
I believe this is most obviously highlighted through a wide gender pay-gap when looking at the parity of income between male and female sport. If this balance is not effectively balanced, I believe it will have a severe impact on encouraging young female athletes to enter the sporting arena.
Women in Sport Murihiku have strong clear messages to deliver. We are following on from the work that Women in Sport Aotearoa started and it is important to get a nation wide network up and running to assist in the delivery of the key messages.
We do punch above our weight in Southland and we want to keep that momentum going. Advocacy is a big part of this work as in supporting women who haven’t got the confidence to put their hands up to go on Boards or committees. Ensuring women’s full and effective participation and equal opportunities for leadership at all levels of decision-making.
Women in Sport Murihiku is a network of sports leaders committed to ensuring Southland women and girls are valued, visible and influential in sport.
To find out more about Women in Sport Murihiku, like the Facebook page for contact details.