Women’s soccer has come a long way in the past few years. Soccer is now second only to swimming as the most popular sport for girls in Australia. And girls have more role models playing the game than ever before.
Women around the country are helping the sport grow in popularity while ensuring that girls have just as many opportunities as the boys.
With approximately 250,000 women and girls playing football in Australia, women are aiming to even the playing field between the women’s and men’s teams.
For too long, women’s soccer has been seriously underfunded. During the 2015 world cup, the Matildas were paid $500 in match fees for each game leading up to their victory over Brazil. Compare this to the Socceroos who received $7500 for the exact same thing.
In 2015, the Matildas were paid $23,000 less per goal than their male counterparts. Unlike the Socceroos, who are treated as professional soccer players, the Matildas are often forced to work part or full-time to support themselves throughout the year, even while training.
Under a new deal, W-League players will see their average pay packet double to $15,500 per season, with all players on a minimum $10,000 retainer. This will give the Matildas a semblance of financial security.
In 2015, the Football Federation of Australia launched a nationwide initiative to increase the number of women and girls playing the sport. The aim is to eventually have women making up 50% of athletes playing soccer. Right now, approximately 21% of the FFA’s participation rate is female.
The initiative included referee courses, gala days, coaching clinics, and five-sided tournaments for female soccer players, in a bid to increase participation. Along with the increase in players, FFA chief executive David Gallop said the FFA also wanted to emphases the roles of female administrators, female coaches, and female referees.
Women’s soccer has reached its current popularity largely in spite of the barriers erected in front of it and without the opportunities to build the revenue-generating potential that the men’s teams enjoy. But women who are involved with soccer in Australia are working hard to leave the sport in a better condition than they found it so that girls throughout the country can have more opportunities to play the game they love.
The Matildas’ success has drawn attention around the world. At home, SBS has announced that it will be broadcasting Matildas and W-League matches free, live, and in HD.
As Tal Karp (Former midfielder for the Matildas) says “We’ve got a long way to go to make sure there is a viable career pathway for women and girls in the game but we’ve come a long way since I was younger.”
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