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IMPACT10: Most influential women in Australian sport

This has been a momentous year for Australia's sportswomen, headlined most notably by the female Olympians who won five of the nation's eight gold medals in Rio de Janeiro and rounded out with Tyler Wright being crowned world surfing champion and winning in Hawaii. But our IMPACT10 list looks at more than the athletes who have shaped female sports in 2016 to include the influencers behind the scenes such as Cricket Australia's Stephanie Beltrame, who got the Women's Big Bash League broadcast live on free-to-air television.

Here's our list of 10 women who have truly made the biggest impact on Australian sport in 2016.

Susan Alberti

The AFL Women's league may still be years away from launching had it not been for Susan Alberti.

As a footy-mad youngster, Alberti had a huge passion for the game but was forced to hang up her boots because there was no league for her to play in. Decades later, she has ensured no girl or women will suffer the same feeling, with the AFL launching a national women's league in 2017.

Alberti has poured a seemingly endless well of energy, time and money into women's football.

In 2008, the generous philanthropist donated $Aus25,000 to the Victorian Women's Football League, which was battling to stay afloat. She has continued to be a powerful driver behind the new AFL's Women's league, boldly stating: "I want to see a women's team at every club. Playing football is not a privilege, it's a right."

Aside from her passion for women's football, Alberti also played a huge role behind the scenes with her beloved Western Bulldogs; her financial muscle helped the working-class club stay afloat when it was in financial dire straits during the 1990s, and the powerful and passionate backroom force was eventually awarded life membership at the Dogs.

In early December, she stepped down as vice-president of the Bulldogs, two months after the club's emotion-charged, drought-breaking premiership win.

Steph Beltrame

As head of media rights at Cricket Australia, Steph Beltrame was instrumental in securing the deal in 2013 that not only brought the organisation its biggest ever windfall from Channel Nine but also the move of the Big Bash League to free-to-air with Ten. These deals led in turn to greater television coverage for the Southern Stars, the national women's cricket team, on Nine, and then pivotally the decision to air selected matches of the inaugural Women's Big Bash League on Ten and One last summer.

Beltrame's quietly spoken but determined cajoling of the networks led to a Rubicon moment for women's cricket, as WBBL matches began to attract head-turning audiences, in turn leading to opportunities for other sports such as netball on free-to-air television. This summer the WBBL began with prime-time coverage on Ten, showcasing the women's game to a bigger television audience than ever before. For that, the players could not only look to their own talents but also the intelligent, behind-the-scenes manoeuvring of one of Australian cricket's sharpest minds.

Charlotte Caslick

Charlotte Caslick is officially the best women's rugby sevens player in the world, and that recognition capped a sensational 12 months for the former touch footballer. She not only claimed Olympic glory but featured in the team that won the World Rugby Women's Sevens Series trophy and the Oceania Women's Sevens title; she was also named in the World Sevens Series Dream team before being named also Australian Women's Rugby Sevens player of the year and player of the tournament in the Australian Nationals.

The Australian women's rugby sevens team made history with their gold medal in Rio, but it was the nature of the performance -- the cohesion, skill and fitness of the players -- that held the country spellbound. And Caslick's speed and skillset along with her fiercely competitive spirit saw her shine particularly bright in a team full of stars.

If she's a force to be reckoned with on the field, her dedication to training, her work ethic and her impressive football brain that have her breaking down the stereotype for women in sport.

On a personal level, Caslick's belief that "the awards you win as a team are so much better than the awards you win by yourself" underlines why she is an inspiration to young Australian women hoping to emulate her achievements.

Moya Dodd

Since joining the FIFA Executive Committee in 2013, Moya Dodd has been a champion for the women's soccer often against stiff -- and sometimes corrupt -- competition.

Dedicated to raising awareness about the need to bring more gender diversity into all areas of sports governance, the former women's national team player is quite possibly the most influential female sports administrator in the world.

Backed by the likes of tennis legend Billie Jean King and football stars Mia Hamm and Julie Foudy, Dodd appeared likely to win a seat on the new FIFA Council before the AFC elections were abandoned in September.

That, however, hasn't slowed the FFA board member, who added the IOC Women and Sport Oceania Trophy and the 2016 AFR Women of Influence Award to her growing list of accolades late in the year.

Chloe Esposito

Chloe Esposito stamped her name in Australia's sporting history books with her come-from-behind gold medal-winning performance in the women's modern pentathlon at the 2016 Rio Olympic Games.

The transition from unknown athlete in a fringe sport, to media darling, seemingly happened overnight but Esposito's success provides a lesson to all young athletes as a shining example of dedication, sacrifice and sheer tenacity.

In a quest to improve her chances of success in Rio, Esposito left behind her home, her fiancé, her mother and sister in search of a more competitive training environment in Budapest, Hungary. Then with her preparation on track, an Achilles injury ruled Esposito out of all major competitions and left her battling to be fit for Rio.

In the final leg of the event at the Deodoro Stadium, a podium finish looked to be beyond reach. Esposito started that leg in seventh position but she staged a monumental fightback to clinch Australia's first gold medal in the sport with an Olympic-record score of 1372 points -- prove to the world that hard work and determination can see dreams come true.

Caitlin Foord

It's been a stellar year for Sydney FC and Matildas star Caitlin Foord.

With the Australian women's team breaking new ground with record audiences tuning in to watch the AFC Olympic qualifying on free-to-air TV, Foord was front-and-centre as the Matildas blitzed the competition to qualify for Rio.

Cruelled by a broken collarbone prior to the Olympics, the 22-year-old fought back from the injury to play a starring role for Australia in Rio, scoring against eventual gold medallists Germany to help the side through to the quarterfinals.

Foord's excellence was recognised in December when she was awarded Asia's top accolade for an individual player, the AFC Player of the Year, at the Asian confederation's awards in Abu Dhabi.

Meg Lanning

Meg Lanning's selection in the Inaugural ICC women's Team of the Year was a foregone conclusion.

Lanning's exceptional performances over the past year included her ninth ODI century from just 54 innings, with experts predicting she may just be the greatest women's batter ever; no wonder she is dubbed the "Bradman of Women's Cricket".

Never one to rest on her laurels, the former ICC ODI and T20I Player of the Year and current Victorian Female Athlete of the Year, is seeing out 2016 as skipper of the Melbourne Stars with hopes the new year will add a WBBL title to her already bursting trophy cabinet.

On track to smash women's batting records out of the park, the humility of the talented opener is a big part of her appeal. Lanning considers her role at the top of the order is simply to make as many runs as she can to contribute to the side, while away from the crease she continues to spread the women's cricket gospel in regional Australia as well as overseas -- even sharing her skills with the Chinese women's team earlier in the year.

Lanning is the youngest player to ever captain Australia, and as one of only a handful of female cricketers recognised as a household name she is inspiring a whole new generation of young girls to pick up a bat and ball.

Sharni Layton

Sharni Layton over the past two years has become the face of Australian netball, and this year she's become perhaps the face of professionalism of female sports.

A statuesque defender, Layton is aggressive, dominant and fearless, happy to throw her body on the line to steal the ball. Pairing her skills with her attitude and deep, booming voice, Layton ensures she's not just seen but heard; and it's through her work that she's pushed netball to the forefront of Australia's sporting landscape and showed that women's sport is tough.

"Sharnz" was unable to secure her second ANZ Championship title, with her NSW Swifts side losing to the Queensland Firebirds in the most dramatic netball grand final ever, but she led the Australian Diamonds to another Constellation Cup title, the International Quad Series title and a successful tour of England tour title as well as retaining the world No. 1 ranking.

She also earned her second straight ANZ Championship Player of the Year award in November to cap a huge 2016 that she labelled "the year of the chicks".

Kate Palmer

The former CEO of Netball Australia, Kate Palmer's tireless efforts to get her foot in the door at Channel Nine saw Australian netball earn itself one of female sport's best broadcasting deals and help the sport become the industry leader in sporting equality in Australia.

The deal was five years in the making, and Palmer was rebuffed and rejected countless times. But her resilient and tireless effort saw Channel Nine, joined by Telstra, in 2016 sign the historic broadcast deal that is expected to tip an extra $Aus20 million into netball's coffers over the next five years.

This deal sees the minimum salary for the professional athletes more-than-double from the previous ANZ Championship contract, and the average salary will jump from about $Aus40,000 to $67,000.

But it's not just the pay increase that Palmer's broadcast deal has produced; the competition now offers breakthrough conditions with clubs paying child support for children under 12 months old and a carer to travel to games with players, private health insurance, and income protection for up to two years in the event of injury or pregnancy.

Moving on from Netball Australia to become the new Australian Sports Commission CEO, Palmer's work to bring netball to the cusp of professionalism is certain to have a ripple effect on other female codes in the country - if it hasn't already done so.

Tyler Wright

It's been a mammoth year for Australian surfer Tyler Wright, who rose to prominence after capturing the WSL Women's Championship Tour crown in early December.

Just days after reaching the pinnacle in her sport, the Australian Olympic Committee boosted her earnings with a $Aus20,000 funding bonus to hold her and Aussie surfing in good stead for the 2020 Olympic Games in Tokyo.

The 22-year-old -- who has already scored 11 WSL World Tour event victories -- epitomises the Australian laid-back approach to life and competition, insisting that more focus should be on growing as a person rather than winning or losing.

Wright is not only an Australian sportswoman at the top of her game but also a role model for future sports stars.