What if I told you, you can have your dream job but I can’t give you the amazing paycheque to go with it?
You might fire back with: Well, Tim that doesn’t really sound like my dream job.
It’s a conundrum the best hockey players in this country have to face when they take up a spot in the nation’s elite ranks.
Australian hockey players do not get paid a lot of money.
It’s no secret.
When I wrote about the fantastic work Hockey Australia does to ensure equal pay between the genders, the gist of the feedback I received was:
“Yeah, that’s great they both get paid equally, they get paid stuff-all… equally.”
The issue continues to rear its head, with our national soccer team, the Matildas, putting their measly wages in the spotlight. That fight continues.
So how much money is enough?
You have to consider the early morning training sessions, injury setbacks, leaving your family for 12-16 weeks a year, not to mention the relatively short shelf life.
Hockey Australia CEO Cam Vale was under no illusions as to where hockey sits in the pay stakes describing the “living away from home” allowance Australian hockey players receive as “modest”.
But Vale said Australian hockey players were “certainly not in the sport because of the income”.
“They are in there for the absolute love of the sport, the success that can be achieved and the likelihood that if you are in an Australian hockey team, men’s or women’s, over your career you are going to have a chance for the ultimate (an Olympic medal).”
Now put yourselves in the shoes of an athlete, you might have five years at the top of your game.
If you’re lucky, you snare an Olympic medal.
How much do you want to get paid, knowing that you will one day be in your mid-30s and the sporting career you have dedicated your life to will now be behind you.
To quote Vale: “It’s complicated.”
Australian hockey players have three salary streams: Hockey Australia payments, Australian Sports Commission payments and Australian Olympic Committee medal incentive payments.
“The men are closer to what you would call the average full-time wage than the women,” Vale said.
This is thanks to the Hockey India League where a player can earn between $40,000 and $80,000 a year, he said.
But overall, without giving any exact figures, Vale said playing for Australia is a “full-time commitment without a full-time salary”.
“I’ve got no doubt our athletes would love to be paid more and deserve to be paid more,” Vale said.
And therein lies the challenge.
At the moment most Aussie hockey players are having to choose between love or money, leaving the question: is it too much to ask to have both?
Speaking of the Hockey India League, Melbourne lad Alex Mason has taken it upon himself to spread the love.
The Yarra Valley hockey player is importing HIL playing guernseys.
The interesting part though is just whose gear has been in highest demand.
“The most popular tops so far have been (Tom) Boon, (Jeroen) Hertzberger and (Kieran) Govers,” Mason said.
“I realised that a lot of kids watched the HIL and it really promoted hockey in an exciting way, a bit like the Twenty 20 cricket format.
“It has gone really well so far with plenty of orders from Holland and Belgium, plus a few from Australia.”