This article was first written for and published by The Roar.
Football fever has hit Sydney and it all kicks off tomorrow when the Westfield Matildas will play Brazil in the first of a two-game international series at a sold out Pepper Stadium.
Over 17,000 people are expected to attend the game and this will be one the biggest crowds for women’s football this country has ever seen.
The Matildas next game will be against Brazil on Tuesday in Newcastle and reports are that this game is close to being sold out too.
This will be the first time that the Matildas have played Brazil since the Tournament of Nations in early August where the Matildas won 6-1 so this team heads into this game not just with the home ground advantage, but also with all the momentum.
If you thought sold-out crowds and more focus on the game was the biggest new in women’s football this week, you would be mistaken.
On Monday a new deal was announced between the FFA and the players union, Professional Footballers Australia which will see $10,000-minimum player contracts for the tenth season of the W-league.
This new deal has also seen an improvement to minimum medical standards, a new maternity policy, football and non-football income protection for injured players, an increase in the length of contracts with the ability for players to sign multi-year deals, access to the PFA Player Development Program and the provision of football boots and runners.
Big deal, I hear some of you thinking. What’s $10,000 compared to what our female cricketers get paid or the women who play in the Suncorp Super Netball League?
First of all, our sports are not in competition with each other. This is a landmark pay deal in women’s football and should be celebrated as such. Additionally, this minimum standard will, for many female football players mean their average wages will double.
This new Collective Bargaining Agreement means that the average wage for a W-League player will be $15,500 for this season and this will rise to $17,400 per season next year. The salary cap for the competition has also increased to $300,000 to allow each of the teams participating to pay these increased wages.
For some of our biggest names like Sam Kerr and Katrina Gorry – alongside the contracts they have when they play overseas, this could mean that they will begin to earn six-figures from playing football. Earning this much is certainly enough to consider these women professional and give them the opportunity, just like the men, to solely focus on playing football.
This all bodes well heading into an Asia Cup and World Cup.
The W-League season will begin in the final weekend of October, span for 14 weeks and will include 25 double-headers alongside A-League games. I hope to see you all at a couple of Canberra United and Western Sydney Wanderers Women games.
We may only be five games away from the end of the NRL season, but with a rugby league World Cup on approach there won’t be any time to stop and rest when the grand final is over on the first of October, particularly when the Jillaroos next game is just over a week away.
This week, Australian Jillaroos coach Brad Donald named his squad ahead of the team’s first ever match against the Papua New Guinea Orchids which will take place in Port Moresby later this month.
This game will take place as part of a triple-header which will also feature an under-16s match between a rugby league Young Achiever’s and a Papua New Guinea Select side and the annual Papua New Guinea Kumuls and Prime Minister’s XIII game.
I would like to congratulate all the women named in the squad. There are plenty of familiar faces like Steph Hancock, Kody House, Kezie Apps and Ali Brigginshaw along with six debutants – Maddison Bennett, Lucy Lockhart, Talesha Quinn, Jessica Sergis, Sarah Walker and Med Warg.
In particular, I want to congratulate Talesha Quinn. Talesha is in the army and moved up to Queensland a couple of years ago to pursue rugby league. Unfortunately when she got there, the competition she was looking to play in had closed down.
Talesha gave other sports a go, including rugby union, but still had a hunger to play rugby league, so much so that when she heard the Cronulla Sharks would have a Nines side this year, she organised a transfer with the army back down to Sydney to pursue her rugby league dream.
To see Talesha represent not just the Cronulla Sharks, the New South Wales Blues and now the Australian Jillaroos is extraordinary and I congratulate her on her commitment to footy and am so glad that she decided to come back to the game. I expect we will be hearing countless stories like this over the next couple of years as women’s rugby league continues to grow.
You might have noticed that there are a couple of faces missing from the team. It’s worth noting that several Jillaroos based in New South Wales were excluded from national duties so they could play in the NSWRL’s Harvey Norman Women’s Premiership final series in Sydney happening on the same weekend.
So if your team is out of the finals race, here’s a good excuse to tune in to rugby league next weekend. Watch this space – I’m sure broadcast arrangements will be announced shortly.