Geelong star Patrick Dangerfield says the Players Association is focused on finding ways to grow the game so female players are appropriately rewarded rather than asking male players to forgo future earnings to raise female players' wages.
Dangerfield, who is president of the AFLPA, said their focus ahead of the next round of collective bargaining negotiations will be creating a sustainable AFLW competition to pay female players "that may not be getting the rewards they necessarily deserve right now".
With the current deal for both competitions in place until the end of 2022 the AFLPA has only just started to raise the prospect of joint CBAs and Dangerfield said it remained to be seen how the next deal would be structured.
He said that although the financial benefits of the growth in women's football was harder to quantify, players in the league had to strive to make AFLW both sustainable and as professional as possible.
"Our female players have been wonderful in understanding that they are pioneers but at some stage you want to be renumerated for that," Dangerfield said.
"The influence they are having in the community can't be underestimated nationally so the long-term goal is to make it as professional as it can be and be rewarded financially for that."
In 2020, AFLW players earn between minimum base of approximately $16,000 for 16 of the 30 listed players, to a high of close to $30,000 for two players per club this season. By 2022 the lowest paid players will receive $20,000 and the highest $37,000.
Dangerfield said he didn't see it was everyone's responsibility to help grow the game so everyone involved could benefit.
"It's about the growth of the entire competition and that is something the league has got to wrap their head around," Dangerfield said.
"It's not just basing it off what the end net return is, which is more quantifiable with the men's competition than the women's."
Many are struggling to meet the demands of the competition while developing their careers with Cats coach Paul Hood saying there is no doubt the standard would improve if the players were more professional.
"The players work really hard on their craft at the moment. They do a really good job and we have seen over the last three or four seasons the increase in standards," Hood said.
"The big areas to gain are in recovery and physical preparation and the chance to get better from week-to-week so it is really hard to fault the players on what they do at training but we need to make the ability for them to prepare and recover from matches better over time."
AFLW players spend a similar time in season training as their male counterparts but many are unable to devote their time away from the club to football as they have jobs or full-time study. With the competition national they are required to travel to games and find time to manage injury.
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