On the season launch of the AFLW, Carlton star Darcy Vescio said she stood up for better pay and conditions for players because she wasn’t prepared to “accept the scraps”.
Speaking on a Future Women panel to promote the ICC T20 World Cup 2020 campaign to break the record for attendance at a women’s sporting event at the upcoming final, Vescio relived the “stressful” battle as one of the rebel players in last year’s pay dispute.
Vescio, 26, sat alongside other greats such as Australian Cricket Captain, Meg Lanning, and Australian Diamonds goal shooter, Caitlin Thwaites.
Vescio said she and Geelong star Meg McDonald chatted about the Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA) and it “didn’t feel right” so they called other players and “senior women” to seek advice on how to push back on the deal.
“It was pretty stressful and it’s hard because your views were not aligned with everyone else in the league,” Vesico said.
“Ultimately we knew that we needed to stand up and say that we wouldn’t just accept the scraps.
“In the end we made some small gains which will mean a lot in years to come. If you know what you are standing for it doesn’t really matter if you are standing on your own or with a group of people, you will feel comfortable at the end of the day.”
Vesico revealed her resolve was strengthened by support from past players who urged her to continue the fight they started.
“There’s a danger that now we’ve got AFLW and it seems pretty good and it is better than what we had, of accepting that and thinking this is the end point.”
Vesico said she believes the players have to keep pushing and named a longer season as the ‘top priority’ for most players.
“Even though it might seem a bit over the top for some at the moment, it is what you have to do to progress,” she said.
Caitlin Thwaites agreed it was important to keep pushing despite netball doing a lot in the space.
“Having to push the envelope and keep our conditions getting better and better, I think that’s an incredible space for us to be,” Thwaites said.
She revealed when she began playing in 2002 she was paid $50 a game and that was only if she made it onto the court, while her brother playing country football was getting $500 a game.
Lanning also acknowledged the work that had gone into Australia’s female cricketers being given the biggest pay rise in the history of women’s sport in Australia in 2017.
All the panellists – and host Lauren Phillips – urged the public to get behind the #FILLTHEMCG campaign as part of this year’s ICC T20 World Cup 2020 series.
The final, on Sunday March 8, coincides with International Women’s Day and, if successful, it will be the largest attendance at a women’s sporting event in history.
Although Meg Lanning, 27, was quick to acknowledge the Australian team still has to make the final.
“We are striving to be there. But it is going to be a massive tournament. The World Cups are extremely hard to win. One slip up, especially in T20 Cricket is disastrous and we are very aware that we need to get there first,” Lanning said.
“I’ve been in the crowd for AFL grand finals and the atmosphere is absolutely incredible so hopefully we will be out there.”
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