Australian netballers are in the money with a new pay deal dwarfing contracts offered in the new women’s AFL competition.
Netball Australia on Wednesday announced a huge pay increase for players in the new national league, confident it will ward off the challenge of rival codes such as the women’s AFL.
They are hopeful it’s another step toward netballers being full-time professional athletes within five years.
With the new league set to start early next year, the collective playing agreement (CPA) allows for 80 players to be contracted to the eight clubs and share from a total payment pool of $5.4 million.
Each club will have up to $675,000 to spend on its list of 10 contracted athletes, meaning that the average salary will increase to $67,500 and the minimum wage to double to $27,375.
By comparison, AFL’s new women’s league has set a minimum wage of $5,000 for their players, with marquees earning $25,000, while female cricketers could earn at least $18,000 if they played both the one-day and Twenty20 domestic leagues.
All netballers will sign 12-month part-time contracts, averaging 20 hours per week, with the hours of 10am-4pm protected should they wish to study or work.
Other key points of the CPA are that players’ income is protected for up to two years in the event of injury or pregnancy, their health insurance is paid by the club, while new mothers will be able to travel with a carer at the club’s expense.
This will make it easier for new mother of twins, Australian and Adelaide Thunderbirds player Renae Ingles, to resume playing, while Test and Queensland Firebirds skipper Laura Geitz also recently announced her pregnancy.
Current Australian player Madi Robinson said she was excited to be a player in this era of netball.
“To see the progression and growth of this sport in such a short time, over my playing career, is awesome,” Robinson said.
“Hopefully it will empower and inspire the young girls as future Diamonds.”
NA deputy chief executive Marne Fechner said they had “lifted the bar” and believed it would keep more women in the sport.
“We want to ensure that netball remains the code of choice … there was a story that potentially netballers are leaving the sport for AFL and our job is to ensure that over half a million girls want to be Diamond or a championship player.”
Fechner said she hoped the players could be full-time professionals by the end of the five-year broadcast deal.
NA also confirmed that the CPA deal meant that clubs may officially commence contracting for the new competition, which starts mid-February.
Robinson has been linked with a move from the Melbourne Vixens to cross-town rivals Collingwood.