Sydney FC captain Teresa Polias knows better than most how difficult it can be for women footballers to make a living while playing the game they love.
The 28-year-old midfielder has been part of the Sky Blues since 2010, helping her team to 10 consecutive finals appearances; the most of any other team in the league.
On Saturday, she led Sydney to a record-equalling third W-League Championship title. She has also represented the Matildas several times.
However, it has not all been smooth sailing for the full-time primary school teacher.
Polias admits that she was persuaded into taking time off from teaching this season in order to give her body time to rest and recover during the W-League.
“I’ve worked full-time and played for six-odd years and it’s really tough,” she told The Women’s Game.
“You get really tired. My partner encouraged me to take the break because I wouldn’t have let myself [otherwise].
“It was a really positive [move]. I’m glad I did it, it was the best decision. It’s opened my eyes because I was getting all these niggles last season, [whereas] this season I haven’t had a single niggle. I’ve rested well, I’ve done extra gym training, eating right. You really feel it.”
In her acceptance speech on behalf of Sydney after winning the Championship, Polias thanked the usual: family, friends, fans. To the surprise of many in the crowd, she then thanked the players' various non-football workplaces for continuing to accommodate their sporting careers.
This is the reality for many W-League players who do not have other clubs or contracts overseas that allow them to continue playing football year-round.
The short W-League season means many players are forced to study and find other work in order to support themselves throughout the rest of the year. This means that football sometimes must take a back seat to paying bills.