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Trailblazing Miami Marlins general manager Kim Ng said Monday she is relishing the pressure of being the first female general manager in US sports, saying she hopes her appointment can be an inspiration to women everywhere.
The Marlins made history on Friday after naming Ng as the club's new general manager, making the 51-year-old baseball executive the first woman to be appointed to a GM role in major North American sport.
Ng said Monday she has been deluged with messages from wellwishers since her appointment was announced, with the likes of former US first lady Michelle Obama and tennis legend Billie Jean King offering congratulations.
Ng said the positive reaction had underscored the impact her appointment would have for young girls and women hoping to forge a career in sport.
"The idea that it has affected this many people is just extraordinary, Ng said. "I thought it would be a big deal, but this is beyond my expectations. I think that really is just a testament to where we are.
"People are looking for hope, and people are looking for inspiration, and I'm happy that this is a part of it."
"Anyone who knows me, knows that I have spent countless hours advocating for young girls, advocating for young women, trying to help them advance their careers. There's an old adage, 'You can't be it, if you can't see it'. I would suggest now that you can see it."
- Ploughing through -
Ng, who previously worked as an assistant GM of the Los Angeles Dodgers and New York Yankees before joining Major League Baseball as vice president of baseball operations in 2011, admitted there had been times in her career when she felt she would never be offered the top front office job.
"I've been defeated and deflated numerous times, but you always still keep hoping and ploughing through," she said.
She said after finally being offered a GM role by Marlins chief executive Derek Jeter, she felt a weight had been lifted off one shoulder.
"After about half an hour I realised it had been transferred to the other shoulder -- I do feel quite a lot of responsibility, as I have throughout my entire career," she said.
"It's even more important now. You're bearing the torch for so many, and that's a big responsibility. But I take it on."
Ng said receiving congratulation from tennis star King -- a childhood hero -- had been particularly sweet.
"As a child I looked up to Billie Jean King. She was a woman who fought for equality, throughout her entire career and is still fighting to this day," said Ng, who also counted another tennis legend, Martina Navratilova, as an inspiration.
Ng meanwhile saluted the "fearlessness" of Marlins chief executive Jeter for offering her the job. Ng and Jeter previously knew each other during their time at the Yankees.
"In New York I saw his fearlessness on the field; with this we see it off the field," Ng said.
Ng takes over the Marlins role from Michael Hill, who was released after the 2020 season.
The Marlins reached baseball's playoffs this season for the first time since 2003, a feat that earned Don Mattingly National League Manager of the Year honours earlier this week.