Gun to your head, someone asks you to name a player in the W-League. Did you come up with Ellyse Perry? Me too.
I support the Newcastle Jets so, in theory, I support their W-League team. But I wouldn’t have a clue as to any player on their roster. Simply put, women’s sport just doesn’t feature on my radar. I think it’s fair to say it doesn’t feature on most people’s.
But I know Ellyse Perry. Does any sports loving Aussie not?
So it was with a complete sense of incredulity I read that her W-League team, current premiers and champions Canberra United, have told her she needs to devote herself to the club 100% or find a new one.
For you unpatriotic types out there, Perry plays as a defender not only for Canberra but is also an integral member of the Matildas. That’s how she keeps busy for half the year. The other half? She’s an all-rounder for the Australian Women’s cricket team.
She made her international football debut at the tender age of 16 and her Test cricket debut at 17 and three months, making her Australia’s youngest ever Test player. Furthermore, she is the only Australian to have played in both a cricket and football World Cup.
To top it all off, she doesn’t look half bad in an evening gown. That’s not sexism – there’s a reason Harry Kewell has a sponsorship deal with Politix while most other A-League players are lucky to get free boots.
Perry is by far the highest profile woman in Australian football and cricket. But her club have decided she can only play one.
“Ellyse needs to choose whether she wants to be a full-time Canberra United player and commit to training every day like everyone else does,” Canberra United chief executive Heather Reid said in the Sydney Morning Herald.
“Or if she still wants to try and mix her cricket commitment with football, then perhaps she will need to find another club.”
What’s odd about this statement is Reid’s suggestion that Perry needs to be a “full-time Canberra United player”. The annual salary cap for each W-League team is $150,000 – less than 1/15th of the men’s salary cap and probably about the average weekly income for a player in the English Premier League.
Of course Perry isn’t committed to being a full-time Canberra United player – no one is at a club with that kind of money on offer!
To her credit, Perry appears to have told Canberra to take their ultimatum and shove it, saying, “there’s some changes at the club and the coach, Jitka Klimkova, has some different ideas about how the team needs to be run.
“…Mixing my football and cricket commitments doesn’t work so well in her framework. It seems I’ll have to start looking for a new club.”
In a league which is seriously short on profile (how often do you see an article on the W-League in any of the daily papers? Or even here on The Roar?) why Canberra would choose to sack their highest profile player for the very reason she has said profile – her talents in two sports – is truly baffling.
Rumours are Perry will head to the new Western Sydney W-League team, closer to where she grew up on Sydney’s North Shore. However one would think she’s not going to have any trouble finding a new club.
Her only stipulation is that her new club allows her to continue playing both sports.
One would think it would be their only stipulation as well.
Follow Joe on Twitter @joebfrost