Erin Phillips speaks out on AFLW part-time demands and first-round injury crisis

AFLW football superstar Erin Phillips weighed in on the league’s growing injury crisis, telling ABC’s The W podcast that her “heart just sank” as Bri Davey, Isabel Huntington and Kate Lutkins fall with ACLs in the first round.

“You don’t have to be on these girls’ teams to be absolutely drained for them,” Phillips said.

“Having dealt with knees too many times and knowing how hard it is to come back and how much work you’ve put in… it’s absolutely heartbreaking.

“Hopefully we can figure that out so that we’re not in the position we’re already in in the first round; we’ve had horrible injuries before.”

Moving forward, Phillips told hosts Sharni Norder and Sam Lane that AFLW’s goal must be professionalization of the league.

“I honestly believe that when it becomes a full time role I’m not saying ACLs are never going to be part of the sport, that’s just not how it works,” she said.

“But I’m very confident that if the girls had the opportunity to play all year round and put the time, effort, money and training into their bodies just by getting paid as an athlete , you have to believe he’s going to have fewer injuries. “


Phillips – who works on Adelaide’s Breakfast Radio this season in addition to playing AFLW – said she has become more aware of the challenges of balancing football with professional commitments.

“This is the first time I’ve had a full time job outside of just being an athlete… so then having to start working to really get ready to do something after football was damn good. difficult, ”said Phillips.

“I would come to certain trainings, in particular [in the] middle of the week I got up at 4am the last three mornings and I’m just absolutely exhausted because I didn’t take a nap [during the day].

“Because the moment I come home is when I want to be a parent and a wife and give them my attention, and that was just hard.

“It was the first time that I really knew how these other girls felt about the difficulty of being a part-time athlete again, because you put so much energy and effort into wanting to be an athlete. full time, but that’s almost impossible. “

October would be the ideal start date for the season: Phillips

The better and fairer double also weighed on the start time of the season, saying she was not a fan of the season six kickoff in January.

“I would love for the season to start in October, right after the men’s competition is over,” said Phillips.

“It’s a good time to play, before Christmas. Especially now that I’m back in the squad like the rest of the squad, and you have Christmas vacation, it’s a time when the girls can. leave with their family and have that break.

“It was really strange for me to train at Christmas, very close to Christmas, then coming back we had three sessions before the first round [without a practice match], which was just weird “.

Phillips said the season schedule has also made it difficult for AFLW players to access their respective club’s facilities.

“When the boys were on break, we had full access [because] they weren’t there, “she said.

“Now that they’re back, from Monday we’re only allowed to be there after 4pm. For half of the team, that’s irrelevant because they work until 5pm, so they come to train right after work.

“But there’s another half that they’ll come in, in the middle of the day and treat their football career like it’s full time, and they’ll come in and use the pool or the ice baths and things like that.

“[But] now unfortunately we are limited to after 4pm. I think the idea is not to have this crossover with COVID, but I would have liked a few more hours. From 2 p.m. it would have been great. “


Phillips explained that AFLW teams were also limited in their ability to deal with injuries, as medical costs were taken out of the limited “soft cap” allocated to clubs.

Soft cap refers to the money clubs can spend on football department staff, including coaches, scouts, roster managers, fitness staff and medical staff.

“The drug comes out under the soft cap, which is crazy,” Phillips said.

“It should be something completely separate, being able to spend as much as possible, getting more than just a 30 minute massage a week for free. It should be a priority for recovery.

“We have one physiotherapist for 31 girls, you know… they try their best to try to give that much time but you have 31 girls so it’s difficult.

“You’re cutting corners on these things and for me you’re going to get results like ACLs and injuries and girls not ready to perform physically.”


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