Amy Marfell

Participation Growth Advisor, Sport Waikato - Hamilton, Waikato

Key Info

  • Bachelor of Health, Sport and Human Performance
  • Master of Health, Sport and Human Performance
  • Doctor of Philosophy
  • Health, Sport and Human Performance
  • Psychology

Dr Amy Marfell enjoys sport and pushing herself to her intellectual limits. So for Amy, doing her PhD about the experiences of New Zealand women in sports and physical culture was a good fit and helped her secure a job in community sport.

Amy is now the Participation Growth Advisor at Sport Waikato, which involves her leading an exciting new initiative targeted at increasing physical activity participation among girls and women in the region. She’s also a teaching fellow in the University’s Faculty of Sport, Health and Human Performance, and has taught in the Geography Programme in the Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences. Additionally, prior to completing her PhD and soon after, she worked at Hamilton City Netball Centre as their performance co-ordinator.

Amy’s doctoral research focused on contemporary recreational netball, a sport she has a long association with as both a player and secondary school-level coach. Amy’s project sought to examine the everday lived netball experiences of ‘Kiwi’ women and in so doing, she discovered that netball reproduces and celebrates a particularly narrow feminine athletic ‘ideal’, and therefore isn’t the national sport for all New Zealand women, which it is often heralded as being.

In particular, Amy discovered that not all women feel that they belong in netball space—a finding that was particularly evident among her conversations with those women who identify as ‘tomboys’ or lesbian and pregnant women, for example.

Amy completed undergraduate, honours and masters qualifications at the University of Waikato before embarking on her PhD. She came to Waikato from rural Hawke’s Bay 12 years ago to complete her Bachelor of Sport and Leisure Studies* and now calls Hamilton home.

“I chose to study at Waikato initially because the bachelors degree offered me flexibility to study other areas, and I was interested in psychology. Then I stayed on because the staff were so supportive and inspiring. They’re a group of enthusiastic and knowledgeable people who will challenge you to think about sport, physical activity, health and human movement in new and exciting ways.”

Amy’s still playing competitive netball since completing her doctoral studies. “I played netball as part of my research for my PhD after a bit of a hiatus from the sport while I was completing my earlier studies. Playing netball as a method of research was extremely valuable—it not only offered a means to gather data and to engage with netballers as part of my project, but it also met many of my social, emotional and physical needs as a busy doctoral student. Netball continues to function for me in much the same way in my working life.”

*The qualification previously known as Bachelor of Sports and Leisure Studies has been replaced by the Bachelor of Health, Sport and Human Performance.

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