Year in Review: Pay deals, record crowds and new competitions for female sporting elite

PIONEER: Nelson Bay’s Pippa Smyth is leading the way for the Hunter’s female AFL players, securing a contract with the GWS Giants for 2018. Picture: Marina NeilA pair of football boots may not be much but they were part of some significantstepstaken in women’s sport across the nation this year.

There is no denying there remains a way to go before elite sportswomen can pursue their dreams with the professionalism their male counterparts possibly take for granted.

But 2017 can certainly be looked upon as one where strong foundations were laid.

A domino effect was seen as several sports, one-by-one, offeredplayers improved conditions and the collective result was nothing short of ground-breaking.

After a long and well-publicised pay dispute between Cricket and the n Cricketers’ Association, the biggest pay rise in the history of women’s sport was announced.

It involved an increase for our international womencricketers from $40,000 to $72,076.

There was also increased average pay fordomestic female cricketers from $22,000 to $52,000 for national league and Big Bash commitments.

Other codes may not yet be paying their women the same sort of money but there is plenty to be excited about.

Hannah Brewer has played in the W-League since it began in 2008.

The 24-year-old returned to Newcastle this season as Football Federation announced a landmark agreement for W-League players which included a minimumwage of $10,000.

It meant an increased average pay from $6909 to $15,500.

MOVING FORWARD: Hannah Brewer returned to the Jets this year as Football Federation announced a landmark players agreement which included a minimum wage of $10,000. Picture: Jonathan Carroll

“When I started we were signing contracts that didn’t even cover petrol,” Brewer said at the time. “It’s what we deserved from the start and it’s an exciting time to still be around.”

Football boots and runners were also provided in the agreement.

There were some watershed moments in the Jets camp, wherefor the first time players were given their own change room, training base and suits to wear ongame day.

Major sponsorsjumpedon board and all but one of their home games was scheduled forMcDonald Jones Stadium.

Matildas legend Cheryl Salisbury summed it up best on the eve of the W-League kick-off,saying:“Iwish I could still be playing.”

In her era,not so long ago, female players did not have their own change rooms and instead changed on the bus after games.

Jets captain and Matildas player Emily van Egmond said new pay conditions were “a breakthrough”, one translatingto better on-field performances.

“There have been a few different things this year that have been really good and puts us in good stead for next year,” van Egmond said.

“Girls not having to worry about work from nineuntil five and then race to training, it’s a huge boost for the individual athletes, especially when it comes to the games on the weekend because that can be extremely taxing on anybody and I think the level of competitiveness will rise within that.”

PAVING THE WAY: Jets captain and Matildas player Emily van Egmond has seen plenty of progress on and off the pitch since the W-League began in 2008 but none more than this year. Picture: Jonathan Carroll

The improvement in W-League conditions came after netball, cricket and AFL had all made inroads for their female players.

n netball legend Liz Ellis’ 2003 contract comprised a $3500 sign-on fee, maximum match payment of $130 and strapping tape, limited to 30 rolls for the season. At the time she was arguably the best player in the world.

In the same era, limited budgets meant the manager of the Hunter Jaegers pre-cooked players’ meals foraway trips.

When Super Netball was launched this year,the average salary had risen to $67,500 for a squad of 10 players and the minimum went from $13,250 to $27,375.

Samantha Poolman2017: Ground-breaking year for womenNETBALL

Signed alandmark collective agreement for a new national netball league.Increased the average player salary to $67,500 and the minimum salaryfrom$13,250 to $27,375.Offered 12 month part-time contracts for the first time withentitlements includinga parental care policy,private health insurance contributions and income protection.AFL

Announcedthe first ever national women’s competition.Offered marquee playersa financial package of $27,000,priority players $12,000 and remaining listed players $8500 for the seven-roundseason.Includedin player packageswere football boots and runners, a travel allowance, income protection insurance, and anallowance to paya carerduringinterstate travelfor thosewith a child under 12 months.CRICKET

Signed off onthe biggest pay rise in the history of women’s sport in .Increased thebase rate for international women’s cricketers from $40,000 to $72,076, animprovement of over 80 per cent.Increased averagepay fordomestic female cricketers who play in the Women’s National Cricket League and Women’s Big Bash Leaguefrom $22,000 to $52,000.FOOTBALL

Signed a ground-breakingagreement for W-League players including a minimumwage of $10,000 and a new maternity policy.Increased the average pay for a W-League player from $6909 to $15,500.Provided football boots and runners in W-League contracts and offered increased player contract length and contract security with multi-year deals.Resulted in highest paid female players earning more than $130,000 a year through the W-League, playing overseas and Matildas commitments.BASKETBALL

Announced the firstminimum conditions agreement for the Women’s National Basketball League.Ensuredall employed players were paid at least $7500 with no cap on payments or team salaries.Improvedconditions for travel, promotional appearances and how young development players were treated.Announced WNBL would receive television coverage again after a two-year absence.RUGBY LEAGUE

Announced a domestic women’s competition for2018 and a$3.75 million allocation for the elite women’s game as part of an historic $980 million collective bargaining agreement handed down by the NRL and Rugby League Players Association.Offered paid contracts for Blues players for the first time and live television coverage of State of Origin.RUGBY

Announced an amateur five-team Super W competition to kick off in March next year comprisingQueensland, NSW, ACT, Victoria, and Western .Workingwith the players association to address pay disparity in national sevens teams.