The Matildas: Why We Had No Other Choice

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Sportette Editorial: Don’t Let the Matildas Strike Be in Vain

We are taking a stand collectively, the Matildas, the Socceroos, the A-League and W-League, because as Australian footballers we strongly believe a ‘whole of game’ approach will serve us best for a successful and sustainable future. When we talk about football in Australia we want it to be a game that caters effectively for both men and women. A game that inspires both boys and girls to get involved from a young age and be part of a positive engaging sport that provides invaluable opportunities for team participation and personal development. As players we believe men and women should be considered equally important irrespective of who draws the biggest crowds to the games.

The success of the Socceroos and the Matildas are both equally important for what the sport gives back to the Australian community. As Matildas we know the women’s game is still growing in Australia and is yet to catch up to the men’s game but a ‘whole of game’ agreement is a massive step towards that. Providing the Matildas and W-league with an equal platform to that of the men isn’t just game changing it’s life changing. The W-league, if allowed growth, has so much potential to be one of the best female football leagues in the world. We’ve already attracted the best players in the world under the current conditions in the likes of Nadine Angerer, Megan Rapinoe and Jessica Fishlock to name a few.

We as female footballers have had to make so many sacrifices off the field to be able to achieve what we have and now we have been forced to make sacrifices on the field

We as female footballers have had to make so many sacrifices off the field to be able to achieve what we have and now we have been forced to make sacrifices on the field. The current Matildas aren’t being selfish and it’s not like we don’t want to represent our country, believe me I still pinch myself every time I put on that jersey. We are doing it for the generations to come like previous generations have done for us.

The next generation of female footballers won’t be saying the same generic answer to the popular question ‘how did you get into football?’ it will no longer be because their brother played or their dad loves the game but rather because their sister, girlfriends, mother or idols play. The Matildas are role models that represent hard work, determination, diligence, professionalism and success, we are individuals that know what it means to be part of a team, a family, a community, a society.

Due credit should be given to FFA for prioritising the Matildas World Cup preparations with a fulltime program for the six months leading into the tournament that proved to be the difference in the history making result against Brazil. In stark contrast to this though, not only were we well under paid for the commitment we were required to make, immediately after the Women’s World Cup, FFA suddenly stopped paying Matildas players most of whom have little other source of income because of the demanding time commitment required to meet Matilda obligations in todays international sporting environment. This was a perplexing turn around by FFA that threatens to stop the positive momentum that was being achieved.

Just like my teammates I have been left uncontracted for the last two months with no security or certainty of when FFA will decide to recognise us as people.

Just like my teammates I have been left uncontracted for the last two months with no security or certainty of when FFA will decide to recognise us as people.

Almost everyone would understand what it means financially to be a student and how difficult it can be to get by at times. I’m a student currently undergoing a Masters degree at Griffith University and a Matilda who now very publicly earns nothing. Thinking about my situation now and if it will ever improve is daunting, I’m 24 and still living at home. There needs to be a better pathway and a secure platform for female footballers here in Australia. That is what we are fighting for and that is what the Matildas are standing strong for.

What are we asking for?

As far as conditions go, our claims include:

– Mode of employment – being paid as full time professionals for full time load

– Number of players on contract – the FFA have offered 18 player contracts while we are pushing for 25. Considering 23 players went to the WWC, which is consistent with most tournaments, with a handful of players on stand by this is not outrageous.

– Length of the contract (currently 6 months) to increase to 12 months for player certainty

– Notice period for terminations – provide for more than 1 month notice

– Facility access i.e. gym memberships

– Parental Management Policy

– Scheduling

– Domestic playing obligations – precluding players from Matildas contracts if not in the W-League

– Increased commercial opportunities

– Medical standards

In terms of pay, we are seeking an immediate increase of the player payment pool from $750,000 to $1 million for 25 player contracts, this would correct the trending underpayment of the players. That’s a base increase from $21,000 per player to $40,000 per player. A tiered model would be implemented with a Tier 1 Matilda at $40,000 and Tier 2 at $33,000. There would then be annual increases of 15% across the 4-year term of the new CBA.

As I said before, football should treat women and men with equal importance.

The Socceroos and A-league are great advocates for the Matildas and for women in sport just as we are great advocates for them. Yes we are striving for gender equality, as are all women across many industries that could also see major breakthroughs by supporting this movement. Football is the world game and we (Matildas, Socceroos, A-league and W-league players) embrace the game with the same amount of passion, drive and love, and want nothing more than to be able to play to the best of our ability. What the success of the Matildas can give back to the community is equally important to that of the Socceroos. Right now we are fighting for the opportunity to grow the game of football as a nation, the women, the men, the community and a ‘whole of game’ approach supported by FFA is crucial to this.

Tameka is a midfielder for the Westfield Matildas.

You can follow Tameka on Instagram and Twitter

Read also: Editorial: Don’t Let the Matildas Strike be in Vain

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Matilda Katrina Gorry Living the Dream..A World Away from Here

Tameka Butt – Strong is the New Pretty

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