The woman who served a pivotal and chief role in developing women’s football in Australia to the point where we were able to have the glorious and wonderful thing that is the AFLW has weighed in heavily on the AFL’s stark pay gap, and provided an interesting assessment on the league’s distribution of wealth and revenue.

Chyloe Kurdas, who served as the AFL’s Female Football Development Manager from 2007 to 2016, helping pave the way for the AFLW’s debut in 2017, spoke at TEDxSydney last night on the issue of the launch of the league, discussing a wide range of issues.

Following her speech, Kurdas – who now works in fostering female participation with Golf Australia – spoke to PEDESTRIAN.TV on the issue of pay disparity for the women, and offered some intriguing takes.

Firstly, Kurdas acknowledged the part-time nature of AFLW players, but was at pains to stress that the losses and sacrifices the players make – which are great – demand adequate compensation.

There’s money in the game and where leadership chooses to distribute the money that’s the really hard question. Is it ok to have players being paid ten-and-a-half thousand dollars a year whilst this player over here is being paid a million dollars a year per season, yes he’s working full-time for 40 hours.

But to be honest the 15 hours the (AFLW) players are contracted for, they do a whole lot of stuff outside of that, they’re all working full-time on top of that and some of them are moving their lives from states just for those 5 months of the year. So there’s a loss of potential earnings for some of those players whilst they’re in this AFLW system.

Some of them have gone part-time at uni, which means they start full-time work later, which means they’ve lost revenue long-term, superannuation things like that. Some of them have dropped back their working hours from 38 to 30 or 25, so there’s lost revenue there. That’s a really big challenge for them.

She also strongly rebuffs arguments that the men’s game is the one that brings in all the revenue, on account of the AFL almost entirely propping up expansion clubs Gold Coast and Greater Western Sydney, who generate significantly less revenue in relation to the established clubs, yet male players on those lists are paid at parity.

The argument there is that while the men bring in all the revenue if you look at a couple of the new teams in the competition, the AFL actually has to pay for those clubs to be financially viable because they’re not able to generate enough revenue for themselves at the moment. And yet those boys still get paid extraordinary amounts of money.

So that argument around the women don’t bring in enough revenue doesn’t wash for me, because there are some clubs within the AFL that don’t bring in any revenue either and they actually cost the AFL a lot of money, millions of dollars.

They’re paying for men’s expansion on one side, and still keeping pay parity for men from those clubs, [while also] paying for women’s expansion on the other side but not prepared to do pay parity with women.

Kurdas also offered up the solution of cutting the pay for male players by a minute, tiny amount, which would in turn provide enough funding to double the current salaries of every contracted AFLW player.

If you give all the male AFL players a 1% pay cut and you distributed the money to the players of the current 8 female teams, it would be a 100% pay rise for those female players. There’s a lot of conflicting needs and it’s a very big jigsaw puzzle.

A little sacrifice for some, leading to a big benefit for others. It certainly puts things in perspective.

Image: Getty Images / Mike Owen