Inspirational Matildas receive 2023 Don award with support from pioneering women in the field of netball.
Kyah Simon, a striker for the Matildas, has expressed her support for netball players in their disagreement regarding compensation and working conditions. Simon stated that Australian footballers understand and sympathize with their struggle and believes that all female athletes in the country should strive for improved rights.
At the Melbourne Cricket Ground, the Central Coast Mariners player spoke about receiving the Don Award from the Sport Australia Hall of Fame on behalf of the Matildas. The team was recognized for their inspirational impact on Australians in 2023. Despite finishing fourth in the World Cup, their performance broke ratings records and garnered a huge fanbase.
Netball Australia and its athletes have been engaged in discussions this year regarding their most recent salary agreement. The two sides will convene in Melbourne on Friday in hopes of reaching a resolution to the ongoing dispute over funding.
Simon expressed understanding, stating, “We can truly relate to that.” He noted that the Matildas faced a similar situation a few years ago when they were advocating for their collective bargaining agreement rights. In 2015, the team went on strike for two months, ultimately reaching a new agreement that provided better pay and improved conditions for the players.
Recently, football players have experienced a better relationship with Football Australia as their popularity has increased. The Matildas and Socceroos recently reached a new agreement on pay, which includes a revenue sharing aspect that has been referred to as “a collaboration in developing the sport.”
On Thursday, Kathryn Harby-Williams, the chief executive of the Australian Netball Players’ Association, shared that some netball players have experienced emotional distress and resorted to sleeping in their cars during the ongoing bargaining dispute. This resonated with Simon, who emphasized the impact of these negotiations on athletes both on and off the court.
“I empathize greatly with the girls and understand the struggles they are facing,” she expressed. “Advocating for the rights that are rightfully yours is never a simple task, especially when you are being deprived of them. I hope a swift resolution can be reached for their benefit.”
During the same event, the 2000 women’s water polo team from Australia, which was a trailblazer in the sport, received the Dawn Award for this year. This honor is given to athletes who have made a positive impact on their sport. The team was acknowledged for their 20-year effort to have women’s water polo included in the Olympics, and they achieved gold medal success in Sydney in 2000.
Taryn Woods, a trailblazing athlete, expressed that there is a sense of unity among all female athletes in embracing the beginning of a new era.
She expressed hope that the current struggle and hardship will lead to significant and lasting improvements for the athletes, the sport, and women’s sports in general. She acknowledged that they are not only fighting for themselves, but for the advancement of women’s sports as a whole, and declared full support for their efforts.
Tim Cahill, a former Socceroo player, received a medal for his induction into the Hall of Fame. He stated that men’s and women’s sports should not be pitted against each other and that the Matildas deserve recognition as heroes in their own sport.
“Both men’s and women’s sports should be on equal footing, focusing on the achievements of the team as a whole rather than individual accomplishments. Sam Kerr, a standout scorer for the Matildas, surpassed my record for international goals last year,” stated Cahill, recognizing her incredible talent.
To me, being on stage or in a lower position is not about competing. I am simply grateful for the chance to pave the way for boys and girls in Australia.
The latest additions to the Hall of Fame this year are Johnathan Thurston, a rugby league player, Kim Brennan, a rower, Kurt Fearnley, a wheelchair athlete, Lydia Lassila, a freestyle skier, Nova Peris, an athlete and hockey player, and Tim McLaren, a rower.
The status of ‘legend’ was bestowed upon Australian Rules player Bob Skilton, seven-time surfing world champion Layne Beachley, and indigenous rugby union figure Mark Ella.