Former Matildas star Heather Garriock takes hardline stance on dual-sport athletes

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 Eamonn Tiernan

Former Matildas star Heather Garriock says the days of dual code athletes in women’s sport must come to an end if they’re serious about becoming professional.

The first-year W-League coach has brought the hardline stance to Canberra United this season but it’s not the reason foundation player Ellie Brush has joined the Western Sydney Wanderers.


Garriock, 34, says if female athletes want to make their sport fully professional then they must take a professional approach and commit 100 per cent.

Brush has been with United since the W-League’s inception in 2008 but last year split her time between the capital and the GWS Giants for the inaugural AFLW season.

The 29-year-old Canberran has made the permanent move to Sydney to live with her partner and this season will play for the Wanderers and the Giants.

“I moved to Sydney for a lifestyle change and to experience something different, no matter who was the coach at Canberra I was always going to play for a team in Sydney,” Brush said.

“Canberra United has been a massive part of my life for the past 10 years and they’ve been like family, so it was a massive decision and tough decision but the right one.

“I hold the club very close to my heart and certainly that first game against them is going to be very tough, so it’s sad, but people move all the time and I’m looking forward to a new challenge.”

The AFLW proved a huge success with the eight teams made up of athletes from all different sports, but Garriock emphasised they won’t be getting any of her players this season.

“I’m not negotiating with AFLW and football commitments, if we want to become a fully professional league then it’s non-negotiable and players have to commit for the whole season,” Garriock said.

“Ellie has been the backbone of Canberra United and I appreciate everything she has done for the club but I know her playing AFLW last year was hard on the team.

“We had a conversation and she told me she was leaving for Sydney but we have a really good relationship and we’re good friends so there was no hostility or anything.”

Canberra United forced Australia’s most famous dual-sport female athlete and Garriock’s Matildas teammate Ellyse Perry to pick one sport which saw the star cricketer leave for Sydney in 2012.

“I played with Ellyse and she’s a phenomenal person and she juggled both exceptionally, but from my perspective it was hard when she wasn’t at training during the week to prepare for games on the weekend,” Garriock said.

“I just don’t think it’s fair to teammates and you wouldn’t see other professionals doing it, Ellyse did it for a long time and I take my hat off to her but I don’t think you can do it in this day and age.”

Spearhead: Ellyse Perry has been shouldering the fast bowling burden.

Canberra United gave Ellyse Perry an ultimatum in 2012 which saw her leave for Sydney. Photo: AAP

Brush said she respected Garriock’s commitment to the game and women’s sport but said playing both codes allows her to be a full-time athlete.

“I see where she’s coming from and applaud that she’s trying to be as professional as possible but we’ve still got to make ends meet,” Brush said.

“If you’re on a Matildas contract you’re a full-time athlete but below that you’re only playing and getting paid for five months of the year.

“If I could chose one I would, but I think the two can work well together and if I wasn’t playing both I’d have to be working another job.

“I got away with it last year because it was the first AFLW season but if I’d stayed in Canberra it wouldn’t have worked this time because other players would be able to commit more than me and Heather expects 100 per cent commitment, which is fair enough.”


Source  :  The Canberra Times


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