Captains Lunch 2021

Celebrating Female Leadership in Sport and Business 

Staged in partnership by:

Posted 21 January 2021

The 2021 Captains Lunch – celebrated female leadership in sport and business!

Prime Minister, Rt Hon Jacinda Ardern, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Sport & Recreation, Hon Grant Robertson and Chief Executive of Sport New Zealand, Raelene Castle ONZM (Ngāpuhi) headlined the annual Captains Lunch at Eden Park on Friday 7 May 2021. The event hosted a panel discussion with Duane Kale ONZM, Vice President of the International Paralympic Committee, International Rally Driver, Emma Gilmour et Sarah Walker, BMX Olympic Medallist and IOC Member for New Zealand; moderated by former WNBA Basketballer, Megan Compain.

This year IWG celebrated a very special milestone – exactly ‘1 Year to Go’ until New Zealand hosts the 8th IWG World Conference on Women & Sport – May 2022. The event is the largest worldwide gathering of experts in gender equality in sport and physical activity, with 1,200 participants expected. 

Following a sell-out success in 2019, the Captains Lunch returned bigger and better! Over 300 sport and business leaders attended the Captains Lunch 2021. 

With special thanks to our host partner:

Proudly partnered by:


About Captains Lunch

As partners, Women in Sport Aotearoa and Trans-Tasman Business Circle SportsConnect firmly believe that the Captains Lunch is an important dialogue, celebrating women with the focus on bringing sport and business communities together in one room, to meet and connect in person. With COVID-19 playing havoc with sport and disproportionately affecting women’s sport globally, it’s also a place to celebrate Aotearoa’s leadership into the recovery phase.

The annual Captains Lunch celebrated the journey toward and beyond the 8th IWG World Conference on Women & Sport in Tāmaki Makaurau Auckland. Taking place from 5-8 May 2022, the 8th IWG World Conference is one of the “big four” women’s sports events coming to Aotearoa New Zealand, with the Cricket, Rugby and Football World Cups all on their way from 2021-2023. It is the largest gathering in the world dedicated to gender equity in sport and physical activity, with 2,000 expected in-person and virtually.

Uniquely, the Captains Lunch was supported by over 30 “Captains” (table hosts), including female athletes, coaches, leaders and male allies for positive change. The “Captains”  who hoested a table are listed below. Each Captain hosted a table of guests, consisting of a mix of senior sport and business leaders. 

Women in Sport Aotearoa is a charity that exists to transform society through leadership, advocacy and research, ensuring that all women and girls gain equity of opportunity to participate, compete and build careers in play, active recreation and sport in Aotearoa New Zealand. Funds raised from the event will be used by Women in Sport Aotearoa to support its key programmes including delivery of the 8th IWG World Conference on Women & Sport.

An enormous thank you to Sport New Zealand; Auckland Unlimited; Tourism NZ; and our many partners, friends and allies for their support.

Meet the Captains:

Find out more about the “Captains” here!

Check out the Athletes, Coaches, Leaders & Allies who agreed to “Captain” tables in 2021:

Raelene Castle ONZM (CEO, Sport NZ), Duane Kale (Vice President, IPC), Andrea Nelson (CEO, 2022 ICC Women’s Cricket World Cup),

Beatrice Faumuina ONZM (Board Member, Sport NZ), Claire Beard (CEO, Triathlon NZ).

David White (CEO, NZ Cricket), Fiona Allan (CEO, Paralympics NZ), Lara Collins (CEO, Waka Ama NZ),

Jennie Wyllie (CEO, Netball NZ), Johanna Wood (President, NZ Football).

Kereyn Smith (CEO, NZ Olympic Committee), Michelle Hooper (Tournament Director, 2021 Rugby World Cup),

Nick Sautner (CEO, Eden Park), Simon Kent (Coach, Olympic Weightlifting NZ), Jody Cameron (Tall Ferns Assistant Coach).

Shelley McMeeken (CEO, Halberg), Anthony Crummy (CEO, Hockey NZ), Jennah Wootten (General Manager, Partnerships and Communication, Sport New Zealand),

Lynette Grace (deputy Chef De Mission to Tokyo 2020 Paralympic Games), Megan Signal (Olympic Weightlifter).

Jane Patterson MNZM (Chief Operating Officer, NZ Football), Sarah Gibbs, (Former Football Fern and Board Member, NZ Football), Megan Compain (Former WNBA Basketballer),

Sarah Walker (BMX Olympic Medallist and IOC Member for New Zealand), Emma Gilmour (International Rally Driver).

Sarah Cowley Ross (Former Olympian and Chair of NZOC Athletes Commission), Kirsten Hellier ONZM (Former Olympian and Commonwealth Silver Medallist, NZ Athletics Coach Development Lead),

Pam Elgar (CEO, Make-A-Wish Foundation and President, Hockey NZ), Suzanne McFadden (Editor, Lockerroom), Joe Hitchcock (CEO, Badminton NZ). 

Meet your Hosts: 

The Captains Lunch is a special event, designed together in partnership by Women in Sport Aotearoa and Trans – Tasman Business Circle SportsConnect.

On the day of the event, guest were welcomed by:

Rachel Froggatt, Chief Executive, Women in Sport Aotearoa and secrétaire General of the International Working Group (IWG) on Women & Sport

WISPA exists to transform society through leadership, advocacy and research, ensuring that all women and girls gain equity of opportunity to participate, compete and build careers in play, active recreation and sport in Aotearoa New Zealand. A not-for-profit, it delivers programmes nationally and is currently global delivery agent for the Groupe de travail international (IWG) on Women and Sport Secretariat & Conference 2018-2022. Read more about Rachel.

Rachel was joined by members of the Women in Sport Aotearoa Board.

Julie Paterson, Sarah Leberman MNZM, Louisa Wall MP, Martin Snedden CNZM, Pauline Harrison,

Erin Roxburgh-Makea, Kelly Evans and Tim Corbett. 

Guest were also hosted by:

Sharron Lloyd, General Manager, New Zealand, Trans – Tasman Business Circle

Trans-Tasman Business Circle is a strategic growth partner for the region’s leading organisations in the public and private sector, providing opportunities to grow relationships, profile, insights and business knowledge. Its extensive and influential network in Australia, New Zealand and Singapore has assisted its clients to achieve their objectives by building strategic relationships, deepening business insights and increasing profile. Read more about Sharron.

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