Williams hopes Perry stays in Canberra
Canberra United vice captain Lydia Williams has backed Jitka Klimkova’s vision for a professional approach in the capital but admits she would love Ellyse Perry to rejoin the W-League champions next season.
And Australian Opals basketball coach Carrie Graf says it’s more than fair for the club to ask Perry to commit to United on a more full-time basis.
For the first time in her dual international career, Perry must decide whether to scale back her cricket commitments to play with Canberra or find a new W-League home.
As revealed in The Canberra Times in January, United coach Jitka Klimkova wants Perry to make a choice between the sports after she missed the team’s semi-final because of her cricket duties with the Australian squad.
‘‘What Jitka is bringing to the table is that she wants us to be professional because coming from Europe, that’s the way every team is over there,’’ Williams said.
‘‘She wants Canberra to be the first club with a professional environment.
‘‘I understand where she’s coming from ... I think Ellyse has been a part of Canberra United for three season and I know how important it is to keep a core group together for success.
‘‘Ellyse has contributed to our success in all of the seasons so it would be awesome to have her back.’’
After joining Canberra at the start of the 2009-10 season, Perry has juggled her WNCL duties with the NSW Breakers with her W-League appearances.
She played just six games for Canberra last season.
When Perry first joined Canberra, coach Ray Junna allowed her to train with the team once a week before playing.
However, when Klimkova arrived she transformed the schedule and requested Perry be in Canberra for training on Wednesday afternoon and remain the capital until after the game.
Perry plays cricket and studies in Sydney and is one of the most recognisable faces in Australian women’s sport.
Opals and Canberra Capitals mentor Carrie Graf has long held a desire to make women’s sport professional.
She has helped the Capitals become one of the most successful WNBL clubs and will lead the Opals to the Olympics in July.
Graf said female athletes needed a professional approach if they wanted their sports to continue growing.
‘‘In a perfect world you have all your athletes together and working towards a common goal,’’ Graf said.
‘‘What Ellyse is doing is unheard of at an elite athlete ... she’s super talented to be on the national team for both sports but there was always going to be a point in time where she had to choose.
‘‘It’s a tough one for her with a hard choice, but similarly Canberra United had to make a hard choice because she’s a star player.
‘‘It’s a contract, both sides know what is being offered and the requirements and as a club I think it’s more than fair for Canberra United to ask for that commitment.’’