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She's one of Australia's best soccer players. And she's selling her personal belongings so she can keep playing.

Melissa
Melissa Barbieri

 

Melissa Barbieri is a fantastic soccer player.

She’s 33-years-old, and has one child. She first started playing soccer for Richmond FC in Victoria, and was the first female to play in the professional men’s league. After that, she became a goalkeeper for the Australian women’s national team, The Matildas.

Barbieri also signed for Melbourne Victory for the Westfield W-League (or women’s league), and won the goal keeper of the year award. In 2010, she was named as captain of The Matildas.

Recently, she relocated to continue her W-League career with Adelaide team, Lady Reds. She’ll be continuing in her position as goal keeper, even after the birth of her child earlier this year.

But here’s the thing.

She had to raise an awful lot of money in order to be able to keep playing soccer.

You see, Barbieri wasn’t issued with another Matildas contract this season, due to spending more than a year away from the game after having her baby.

While she understands the decision, it hasn’t left her with enough money in order to keep playing soccer. That’s because she now only plays for Adelaide – and Adelaide United is a club funded by the state’s football bodies, so the players are paid much lower wages than those with A-league clubs or on the national team.

As a result, Barbieri decided to auction off a number of her personal, most sentimental items, in order to raise enough funds to keep playing throughout the season.

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Barbieri  started a project on Sportaroo – a website where fans can get behind sporting campaigns for their favorite teams or athletes – and she’s selling everything from Twitter mentions and wristbands to jumpers and training sessions. She also sold items donated by A-League and Socceroos players.

Check out the video below:

In case you can’t watch the video, she says, in part:

I started the fundraising page just to make sure that I could make ends meet and without a contract from the Matildas, I’m getting paid for the Adelaide trip – but it’s not really covering a majority of my expenses… I thought I’d start a fundraising page and call upon many footballers in our community to help me along the line.

Not only will the funds be helping me in making ends meet throughout the season, for things such as nanny costs, rent, flights, food, board, electricity – all the necessities for me and Holly to make sure that we’re comfortable – and as one of my friends put it – so I can worry about football and not have to worry about everything else.

If there are too many funds… don’t worry, I’m not going to keep it all, I’m going to be donating that to other players. The W league doesn’t get paid as much as we’d like to and I’ll be supporting other players who are in the same boat as I am.

The good news? Barbieri did end up raising the $5000 she needed. The other good news? She earned even more than she was originally hoping for – and she’s going to donate the rest to other sports stars who are struggling to make ends meet.

As she told Fairfax:

I decided that $5000 would cover me after doing a budget and decided that anything over $5000, I’d give it to my teammate… You’d find that every club has it’s own way of running, there’s a salary cap but there’s no floor. You’ll find that a player earns $10,000 in a team and another earns nothing.”

A lot of girls are washing windows to make ends meet… I commend them for changing states to find a team because a lot of teams have Matildas and there’s very little room for them if they’re not the top young players. Coming to Adelaide has been a real testament to their courage and basically their guts.

The bad news? It’s ridiculous that female athletes – professional, incredibly talented female athletes – are still being forced to resort to such desperate tactics, simply to play the sport that they love.

And it’s ridiculous that there’s not more of an uproar about it. Simply a couple of small headlines, buried on a few news sites.

Congratulations on your achievements thus far, Melissa Barbieri. And we really, really hope that we will one day reach a future where no professional female athlete has to auction off her own personal items in order to play a sport that she’s so passionate about.

And in other sports news from the week…

Lisa De Vanna’s stunning bicycle goal, scored at the National Women’s Soccer League in the US, has been nominated for the FIFA Puskas Awards, under the category of Best Goal of 2013. De Vanna’s nomination has led her goal to being recognised by FIFA as equal to those scored this year by the likes of European soccer superstars (most of them male), who include Antonio Di Natale, Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Nemanja Matic and Neymar. De Vanna has also been awarded the title of Australian Female Football Player of the Year.

You can watch her goal below:

The netball world cup is coming to Sydney.
The netball world cup is coming to Sydney.

– Sydney has been announced as the proud host of the 2015 World Netball Cup, to be held on the 7-16 August. 16 countries will be represented at the World Netball Cup, including Australia, England, New Zealand, and Jamaica. Australia and New Zealand are set to play against each other in Pool A, and Pool B will find England and Jamaica facing off against each other.

The full list of qualifying nations is set to be announced in early 2014.

– Hockeyroo champion Kobie McGurk has announced the end of her brilliant nine-year hockey career. Having represented Australia at two Olympic Games, two World Cups, five Champion Trophies and one Commonwealth Games, McGurk’s retirement was a difficult decision, but one that she felt had to be made. McGurk stated, “my passion and love for the game of hockey was never lost. My ability to commit to the Program in its entirety was.”

– Simone Wearne has been inducted into the Baseball Australian Hall of Fame. At age 31, Wearne has claimed the double honour of being the first woman and the youngest person to be ever inducted into the Hall of Fame. Beginning her career in 1999, Wearne has represented Australia on the international stage a number of times, including at the World Cups Series and World Cups Tournaments.

– Australian Sports Commission chairman John Wylie has urged corporate elites to support the vast sporting achievements of women. On Tuesday, Wylie stated that “one of the great under-appreciated stories of Australian sport is that there is a rising force in the form of female sport.” He then went on to say, “we think Australian companies and broadcasters should jump on the opportunity and get behind women’s sport … there is a massive opportunity in front of them that is under there noses that is under appreciated right now.”

Have you seen anything in the sporting world that you’d like to talk about? 

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