NWSL and Wales star Jess Fishlock to star in S4C football documentary
FRESH from being named the Most Valuable Player (MVP) of the top flight of women’s football in America, the NWSL, Jess Fishlock is set appear alongside former Wales captain Laura McAllister in a special one-off S4C documentary.
In the programme Laura McAllister: Gêm Gyfartal (Laura McAllister: Equal Game), to be shown at 9.00pm on Wednesday 24 November (English subtitles available), Laura speaks with heroes of the past, present and future of the red jersey, to get their take on the direction of women’s football in Wales and ask the question – is football a level playing field?
Among those to speak with Laura in the programme is Wales’ most capped international player, Jess Fishlock, who has played a staggering 127 times for her country.
The OL Reign midfielder said: “Being a professional in America, sometimes I’d come home and see girls who are still working and then coming on [Wales] camp, or who can’t buy boots, and it makes me realise that I need to push for more and I have to create change.
“Equal pay is an interesting conversation. I’m not going to go into figures because I have a lot of respect for the FAW. I’m not saying that if we go into a major tournament and the men go to a major tournament, that we should have what they have from their pot of money that they get from UEFA or FIFA, I don’t think that has anything to do with the FAW.
“UEFA for example will give the women £10 million of prize money, and they’ll give the men £250 million, so I don’t think we deserve money from the men’s pot. But if you take that out of it the prize money and UEFA and major tournaments, when you just come to the FAW and Wales, and the men’s side and the women’s side. We do the exact same thing for our country. The difference in pay for that is just unacceptable.”
The game has moved on significantly since Laura and her teammates convinced the FAW to take control of the national women’s team in the 1990s. Last month, a record crowd of 5,455 turned out to watch Wales’ match against Estonia at the Cardiff City Stadium.
Former full-back Kathryn Morgan, who made 51 appearances for Wales during the nineties and noughties, recalls a different era for the national team.
“I remember being very excited to go to a tournament in the Algarve,” said Morgan. “We all got an envelope on the first day with everyone’s names on them and we all thought, ‘what’s this?’ I was teaching at the time and I had to take two weeks’ unpaid leave. So I opened the envelope, and inside was £10, to last us the 10 days of the tournament, which meant one pound for each day. I was furious to be honest and just burning up inside!
“I remember, we’d get one shirt to train in for a whole week and one shirt to play games in for the season. My first shirt was a triple XL; Mark Delaney was the right-back at the time so I had to wear a shirt the same size as his, and of course he is quite tall! It’s like we’re still fighting for things that the men get naturally.”
Angharad James is another senior member of the current Welsh squad who are unbeaten so far in their 2023 World Cup qualifying campaign, with two big games coming up later this month, at home against Greece and away versus France. The North Carolina Courage midfielder is also among those to speak with Laura in the documentary.
She said: “The game in Wales has moved forward so much but there’s still a lot for us to do to make sure that the girls are coming through in Wales because we want to keep the talent here.
“There are so many girls who are playing at the moment with a second job; that needs to change because how do you expect to get the best out of players when they have to work until 10pm and then back in training at 8am? What needs to happen now is for everyone to be professional and not just in name, but in everything that comes with it, like the men.”
Watch Laura McAllister: Gêm Gyfartal at 9.00pm on S4C on Wednesday, November 24, or on demand on S4C Clic or iPlayer. English Subtitles available. Also, follow the @sgorio social media accounts to watch the Welsh women’s football vodcast, Gwennan a Sioned yn Siarad Ffwtbol.
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