September 18, 2015
SPORTS REPORTER AT THE CANBERRA TIMES
Matildas striker Michelle Heyman has hit out at the wages paid to the women’s national team by the FFA. Photo: Todd Korol
Matildas striker Michelle Heyman was left stranded in the US after the women’s national team’s tour was cancelled because of the pay dispute between Football Federation Australia and the Players’ Football Association.
Heyman also says she may be forced to quit the Matildas if they don’t qualify for next year’s Olympic Games, so she can set herself up financially with lucrative offers overseas.
The FFA and the Matildas remain at loggerheads after the players pulled out of a training camp after they weren’t paid for two months, which they have now received.
Matildas players are paid $21,000 per year, and about $13,000 for playing at this year’s Women’s World Cup.
Heyman was in San Francisco having finished her commitments with the Western New York Flash of the National Women’s Soccer League when news broke that the Matildas tour of the US had been cancelled.
“I received an email which said, ‘If you’re in America, you have to find your own way home’,” Heyman said.
“I was so annoyed. They [the FFA] promised me my flights home.
“I was so lucky the PFA took care of it because otherwise I would have been another $1500 out of pocket.
“The FFA wants us to be full-time athletes, but they pay us like we’re on the dole.”
Heyman admitted she would consider making the heart-breaking decision to quit the Matildas if they don’t qualify for next year’s Olympics.
“I look at all my school friends and they are buying houses and have all that set, and then there’s me, and I have no idea,” she said.
“I’m so grateful and thankful that I get to travel the world and experience all these things, but in five years’ time, I’m going to be a retired soccer player and have $20 to my name.
“If we don’t qualify for the Olympics then there’s a high chance of me retiring from the national team because I want things in life.
“I’m going to need a career path that’s actually going to pay me a wage and something that I can actually rely on.”
Heyman said the FFA should pay the Matildas players full-time wages because they have to play in the W-League to be eligible to play for the national team, therefore forgoing larger contracts overseas.
“I received an email from South Korea for an offer, and what they are offering me is something never heard of in this country for women in sport,” Heyman said.
“I would be earning 30 times more money than what I would be earning now.
“It’s disappointing because I could make some money and play the game I love, but then I want to play for my national team.”
Heyman arrived back in Australia on Wednesday to begin preparations for the upcoming W-League season with Canberra United.
She is currently living with her parents in Wollongong and desperately looking for a job in Canberra to supplement her part-time wages.
Heyman had previously held a job as a landscaper in Sydney, but couldn’t find any work in Canberra last year to balance around her commitments with Canberra United.
“I went to do my taxes the other day and my accountant looked at my group certificate and said, ‘This is disgusting’,” she said.
“No employer wants to employ me because we are never here.
“I just don’t understand how they [the FFA] think it’s right.
“I’m 27, I’ve been in the team six years, I should be buying a house, but here I am struggling to pay rent.
“Pay us a little bit more and we wouldn’t have to eat our arm.”
The Canberra Times