Women's World Cup: Matildas work as teacher, barista and plumber to pay their way
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Women's World Cup: Matildas work as teacher, barista and plumber to pay their way

What do a primary school teacher, barista, store manager and apprentice plumber have in common? All are world-class athletes representing Australia in this year's women's World Cup.

Their remuneration structure is different, but Football Federation Australia pays the Matildas far less than their male counterparts, the Socceroos.

One high-profile marketing expert said sporting codes should re-think the way they broker sponsorship deals so women do not keep missing out.

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The Professional Football Player's association says many Matildas are unable to reach their potential because they cannot commit full-time to soccer.

But in a statement defending pay discrepancies between the men's and women's teams, FFA pointed to the lack of commercial sponsorship for the women's game.

Twenty3 Sport + Entertainment chief executive John Tripodi said sporting codes should begin thinking differently about how to get sponsorships for women's sport.

If the sport is played at a professional level by men and women, the peak body should consider seeking sponsors for the code as a whole, and then divvying up the funds fairly so the female teams were better paid.

Tripodi, who is also adjunct professor of RMIT University, said media coverage was also important for attracting money for women's sport.

"It's the chicken and egg ... sponsorship dollars are driven by where the eyeballs are," he said.

"[If it's] on TV, radio, or digital platforms, it will get the interest of the sponsorship community."

ANZ had invested in Australian netball, an indication they saw value in sponsoring the sport to attract female customers, he said.

The players association spokesman said Matildas players were not paid the equivalent to a full-time wage, even though the demands of their training program were full-time in nature.

"Many are unable to commit completely to the pursuit of their football careers due to the economic reality of their employment," he said.

"Their performances indicate their potential and if a high performance environment was to be established this would be increased significantly."

He said the time had come for the code to invest in female players.

"The game must increase the commercial revenues associated with women's football," the spokesman said.

"The Matildas continued excellence on the world stage is fundamental to this and can only be achieved through the establishment of a high performance environment."

Westfield is a major supporter of women's soccer in Australia, but the sport does not attract the number of lucrative sponsors the men's game enjoys.

"The results in Canada and the way the players have conducted themselves can only help in securing the commercial support that can drive significant growth in expenditure," the FFA's statement read.

Many Matildas are studying at university, and several also juggle other paid work.

Larissa Crummer is an apprentice plumber and Elise Kellond-Knight is studying a Masters in Pharmacy while also working as a pharmacy assistant.

Midfielder Teresa Polias works as a primary school teacher, Laura Alleway is studying to be a secondary school teacher and Leena Khamis is doing a diploma in business while managing a sports store.

Goalkeeper Lydia Williams is studying a certificate in zookeeping.

Larissa Nicholson is a journalist at The Age.

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