Professional Footballers Australia (PFA) Player Relations Executive, Kathryn Gill, has given an address at the 4th UNI APRO Regional Conference in Kuala Lumpur, outlining the importance of collective action and organised athletes in improving the pay and conditions of women’s football and advocating in the best interests of sport.

Addressing over 700 delegates as a key speaker on “Scaling New Heights on Gender Equality and Women’s Empowerment,” Gill said that from the Matildas perspective, the recent negotiations between PFA and Football Federations Australia (FFA) had only been possible because the team had a clear vision for the game, were united with their male counterparts as a broader working group, owned the decision making process, and never lost sight of the future.

“This agreement required historic action in the Australian sporting landscape from the Matildas, but it also resulted in a significant increase that saw many benefits flow to players,” said Gill.

“We have more to do. We haven’t achieved parity but this was about fair pay and improved working conditions and sets the foundations for further advancements for the women’s game. It will require significant effort to reach it, addressing some of the structural challenges in commercialising the women’s game in Australia.

“Australia remains behind some countries in how we celebrate and support our elite female athletes, but the dispute also provided necessary awareness to the plight of women in sport and gender equity.

“There remains a lack of coverage from the media, a lack of commercial and corporate support and I call upon all key decision makers to show courage and really back the women’s game in a meaningful way.

“The Matildas have shown what it takes to make progress. Intelligent and considered planning, organising and having players at the bargaining table, was paramount to the success of the negotiations.

In the address, Gill said that the dispute with FFA rested on five key issues: fair pay, gender specific issues like maternity leave entitlements, the length of contract, hours worked and protection for younger female athletes.

“These are minimum standards in many workplaces. Ensuring female footballers, as workers, are treated as professionals will enhance the game and players’ lives significantly.

“As female workers, we need to not accept excuses. We have the support of the public and we need to convert that demand and excitement into meaningful careers for women in football.

“Organised female athletes are an important symbol for women in our society. We have a platform to advocate for social change.”