Passionate pleas to MPs have underlined the grave threat to the survival of women's sport in New Zealand, with strong suggestions a generation of future female athletes will be lost unless targeted government investment is swiftly ushered through.
The government has announced a $25 million package for community sport, in addition to the commitment early last month for $70m in guaranteed funding for National Sports Organisations over the next year.
But as sport at all levels confront an unprecedented crisis as revenue streams freeze due to the Covid-19 pandemic, women's sport is firmly in the gun.
The harsh reality for many professional sports organisations is the women's game comes at a cost as it does not generate the same commercial and broadcast revenue, or enjoy comparable investment streams, as long established male codes.
Therefore, in this time of widespread revenue turmoil, like any business sports are looking to cull cost-based exercises.
The Warriors may be forced to drop their women's team and development programmes, while NZ Rugby is weighing costs associated with running this year's female provincial competition, the Farah Palmer Cup, and the supremely successful women's sevens team.
Rob Nichol, speaking on behalf of New Zealand Athletes' Federation, urged the Epidemic Response Committee chaired Opposition leader Simon Bridges to make immediate, targeted funding to ensure women's sport survives.
"We are feeling the pressure that sports are dealing with and the decisions they're having to make around what they focus and don't focus on," Nichol said.
"Women's sport requires investment, and if sports haven't got the funds to invest and they've got an option of going with something else that can generate revenue, then they're going to go with the other thing.
"If the government is able to understand and target that investment they can give sports the confidence to keep the momentum around women's sport going. That's something we would have liked to have communicated."
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Steph Bond, also with the NZ Athletes' Federation, took Nichol's comments further by stressing generations of female athletes were at risk in the current climate.
"In times of crisis inequity will become evident for women in sport," she said. "It's going to have a massive impact but it's an opportunity as well. We can make it part of this women in sport strategy and actually have female athletes at the forefront.
"They are our next generation leaders and board directors. If we lose that generation now we're going to see the impact of that in future years."
Bond called for more meaningful engagement around targeted female investment and the protection of their competitions and salaries.
"If competitions are going to be cut those are the areas that need to be targeted.
"From a participation perspective New Zealand Rugby's growth has been from the female side of the game in the last couple of years so we really need to protect and continue that so those young women have role models to look up to and stay part of the sporting landscape."
Female athletes face far more challenges than their male counterparts – many hold down part-time jobs while juggling family commitments.
The global pandemic is now forcing those athletes to make desperate decisions.
"We're now asking them to potentially extend seasons; they're having to choose whether they stay in the sport or go and earn their income that supplements their sporting income," Bond said.
"Those are massive challenges for the families at home, mentally as well."
Netball New Zealand chief executive Jenny Wyllie earlier outlined the Covid-19 impact on her sport's 350,000 players nationwide.
The $25m government package wasn't scheduled to be paid until July, and that would be too late for netball.
Wyllie said there had been underinvestment in women's sport for decades, totalling hundreds of millions, and this juncture offered a chance to address those "systemic inequities".
Pokie-machine gaming funding pays about 80 per cent of netball salaries.
Wyllie said rugby gets about $23m; netball around $7.5m despite similar participation rates.
Traditional funding streams had declined prior to Covid-19, and netball is now predicting a 47 per cent revenue deficit due to the sudden halt of the season.
Wyllie called for a cross-section working group to urgently investigate alternative solutions; the extension of the wage subsidy for sports groups and the opening of the transtasman bubble.