Round 3 of AFLW Season Seven is upon us and as the injury-riddled cohort of women’s competition navigates a 10-round season, the effect serious injuries have on players’ lives becomes much greater. light.
With multiple ACL injuries already across the league and a horrific double leg fracture for Bulldog Brit Gutnechkt, the implications of these debilitating injuries on the lifestyle of part-time athletes are vast, affecting their ability to access the jobs they they must retain to subsidize the AFLW wage.
Disney+ documentary ‘Fearless: The Inside Story of the AFLW’ explores this, delving into the semi-professional league and women who are expected to perform as full-time athletes, while pursuing a career outside of football.
Collingwood skipper Steph Chiocci articulates the complications perfectly, referencing the heartbreaking moment his co-captain Brianna Davey ruptured her ACL in the final quarter of the Magpies’ 19-point victory over Carlton in January.
“In the commentary, we heard Bec Goddard say it’s not just his football career, it’s his life that’s affected by this injury and that’s so true,” she told ESPN. .
The best and fairest winner Bri Davey reveals the difficulty of rupturing her ACL while filming the new AFLW documentary.
“I’ve actually taken unpaid leave for the rest of the year, so I’m juggling that pretty well at the moment, but in the past I haven’t – I’ve had to work and play in football and it’s just gotten way too hard. There’s a lot of girls doing it.
Chiocci is a teacher herself, and although she thinks she has the privilege of playing the sport she loves, the 33-year-old expresses her hope that players will soon be paid enough to focus solely on football, so that they can take the league to the next level.
“We have girls who are paramedics, nurses, who work in factories and things like that who are up at who knows what time and who work shifts, and it’s just a struggle at the moment,” a- she explained.
One of them is Grace Campbell from North Melbourne, who travels between work and football while working as an intensive care nurse in Bendigo.
Another is Courtney Wakefield from Richmond, who is both a mother of two and a farmer on her sheep property in southwest New South Wales.
In Fearless: The Inside Story of the AFLW, we’re given a glimpse of Adelaide’s Abbie Ballard taking us to her family pig farm in her hometown of Coomandook, South Australia. With grueling four-hour round trips between the country and Crows training sessions three times a week, Abbie’s family hope the sacrifice will finally pay off as the 19-year-old pushes for selection .
His dream finally comes true with an emotional phone call from senior coach, Matthew “Doc” Clarke. It’s a victory to be selected to an indomitable Crows team, but travel and other commitments mean the sacrifice isn’t over for Ballard.
With the new collective agreement, which was negotiated during the offseason, players enjoyed an average 94% increase in salary brackets, which means that for the best players in the league, it may be the first time they can commit to full-time football. , also taking into account sponsorship agreements.
Although this is an improvement, top players will still only receive $71,935 (previously $37,155), a far cry from the highest-paid male athletes, with Dustin Martin, Lance Franklin and Jeremy McGovern reportedly touched over $1.2 million in 2021.
For others, lowering the pecking order and balancing demanding work, school and personal schedules to make ends meet will continue to be an art, with the lowest level dropping to $39,184 (previously $20,239) . It’s a tangible challenge across the league as players conduct media interviews in the car on the way to practice after a full day’s work, or in line at daycare to pick up their children, unable to attend mainstream media calls in the middle of the day. in the blink of an eye.
GWS defender Pepa Randall works as a carpenter when not playing for the Giants and admits it was initially difficult to find a boss willing to be flexible to combine a full-time job with the constant demands of the AFLW .
It’s something Randall will now have to balance with recovering from his ruptured ACL this week, during the second quarter of the Giants’ second-round loss to Brisbane on Sunday. Something Hawthorn ruck Tamara Luke, St Kilda’s Jayde Van Dyk and Gold Coast striker Jaimee Stanton will also have to navigate after also picking up knee injuries in Sunday’s slate.
Chiocci said of the first-ever AFLW match that there was an overwhelming feeling of “it’s bigger than a game, it’s bigger than us” – a sentiment widely shared by the players. most decorated of the AFLW.
Davey also said she plans to ‘leave the game in a better place than we found it’, giving newcomers hope for where their professional football careers might end. place in the years to come.
With the AFLW at the forefront of celebrating diversity and inclusion and redefining gender norms, the six-part documentary explores the journey, sacrifice and history in the making, as AFLW’s pioneering women are leading the way in professional sport and helping to change the sport and the cultural psyche of Australia.
Fearless: The Inside Story of the AFLW is streaming now, only on #DisneyPlus.