I’M a great believer in old proverbs. They normally contain a lot of common sense; however I also believe the benefit of these words of wisdom always depends on how they are interpreted.

As we’re are all aware, women in sport continue to play catch-up with their male counterparts, as for so many years they weren’t allowed to play and also in some circumstances, weren’t even allowed to spectate.

In many sports, it was felt that in order to be accepted and to move forward, women should try and mimic men’s behaviour, on and off the field. This would point to the saying: “Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery”. But let’s be honest, that really depends on what exactly you are imitating!

During a local derby in football’s Australia’s W League, between Melbourne City and Melbourne Victory, a small minority of Victory fans took umbrage against City and Matildas goalkeeper Teagan Micah and threw rubbish and hurled abuse at her.

This is not acceptable at any level of sport and should be stamped out at source.

For some time now this toxic behaviour by some “fans” when their team isn’t performing has to some extent been tolerated. But this is one form of flattery that we do not need to imitate, no matter who or where you are.

We, and by that I mean people who support women in sport, have a chance to create our own behaviour, our own normal. We don’t need to emulate loutish behaviour that makes the news to make women acceptable in sport, and can and should at all times, both athletes and supporters, welcome fair play and keep our most negative responses under wraps.

Let’s show young girls that is a pleasure to play or watch sport, win or lose, and insist that all fans react positively to the end result, even when it doesn’t go their way. Be passionate about your sport but don’t let that passion turn into aggression. We are all exhibiting a lot more tolerance as a society, let’s ensure that applies to sport.