Yesterday was an exciting day for women’s football in Australia, with the announcement that the Westfield W-League players will receive a significant pay increase and improved employment conditions.

Under the new two-year agreement, all players, other than those on scholarships, are guaranteed a minimum retainer of at least $10,000 for the coming season and $12,200 for the 2018/19 season, with no prescribed maximum cap on any one player’s retainer.

The deal brings improved minimum medical standards and provides the first official maternity policy for W-League footballers.

FFT CEO Mike Palmer praised the deal, saying it now offered a professional pathway for female players.

“Women’s Football continues to grow and is an enormous priority for FFT. The work that our clubs are doing to ensure that we provide fantastic opportunities is very important and announcements such as this only serve to provide greater motivation in this important part of the sport. The opportunity for women to make a career out of football is something that is open to very few sports, given the truly international nature of our game. The great news here is that it is now possible to play professionally in Australia and this will serve as a great incentive to young players in Tasmania and across the country. FFT is delighted to see that this matter has been resolved and that the announcement from FFA is so positive at a time of incredible growth and strength in women’s sport.

The deal raises the minimum wage to $10,000 and will mean an expected salary of $130,00 a year for the players at the top of the scale, receiving their earnings through W-League, professional clubs overseas and their appearances for the Westfield Matildas.

“This is the start of a new era for professional female footballers in Australia,” FFA CEO David Gallop said.

“W-League players deserve this pay rise. They have been trail blazers for women’s sport in Australia and are about to enter their 10th season.

“We all share a determination to achieve gender equality in our sport and make it the most attractive option for female Australian athletes.” Gallop said.

FFA also released the draw for the Westfield W-League 2017/18 season, which includes 25 double-headers with Hyundai A-League matches and 27 matches to broadcast live on Fox Sports, significantly up from last season’s 17 matches, with Friday evening games at 5.30pm added to the now traditional Sunday afternoon game.

2016/17 Westfield W-League Assistant Referees Sarah Wikeley and Lauren Hargrave,

These announcements and improvements will support the FFA with their intention to bid for the 2023 FIFA Women’s World Cup and their vision to become Australia’s number one sport.

The 14 round Westfield W-League season will commence on 28 October 2017, a Sydney FC and Brisbane Roar clash will kick off the season.