Bill Drossos (far right) with client Kyah Simon | TWG
At the end of Season Four of the Westfield W-League, record number of Matildas and Australian players have departed to test their skills in international leagues from Europe to the USA.
The migration of Australian players in nothing new but the numbers are close to unprecedented.
Managing players such as Kyah Simon, Tameka Butt, Michelle Heyman and Leena Khamis, Sydney player manager Bill Drossos has been in the thick of the action and we chatted to him about getting Australian players overseas.
TWG: Bill, how did you get starting in managing some of Australia's best known female footballers?
Bill Drossos: Initially it started with the relationship with Leena Khamis and it has sort of grown from there.
I identified early through that relationship that the girls did need some help from a commercial perspective including discussions with sponsors and even, to be honest, some-one actually out there that is chasing that.
I found that there was a big gap in women's football and this is how I got established and then it grew from there in terms of the number of players were are involved it.
Can you tell us some of the players that you manage and how much of their interests you look after?
It varies. For some it's more on club contracts and, more recently, with the overseas opportunities.
From a day to day perspective its Leena Khamis, Danielle Brogan, Kylie Ledbrook, Kyah Simon, Tameka Butt, Michelle Heyman and Kim Caroll. I have helped Elise Kellond-Knight when she was over in Denmark.
So it is a few of the Matildas now and I don’t limit that. I have basically said to all of the girls, if anyone needs some help they can contact me.
What type of support do you provide?
It's more on the commercial side. When we are talking to sponsors, contracts yes and agreements. Not much on the football side. I let the clubs handle that, but it's more about negotiations.
Many players are now heading to overseas leagues. How does the initial contact occur with an overseas club about the possibility of signing one of your players?
It has been two fold. Some are approaches to us from clubs and then we look at trying to match a player that they are looking for.
Others are me sending out CVs, talking to clubs and sending video footage of the players. My approach has been much more targeted to clubs that I know are looking for a particular type of player and then trying to match that player with that club. Obviously, culturally it's important that we are matching the right girls to the right countries and all of that.
How do you perform your due diligence to ensure you are getting the best for your player?
Firstly, I am not a FIFA player agent. I just manage the girls, then I look for professional advice in terms of the contracts and the PFA (Professional Footballers Australia) have been a great support in regard to the contract. So I know then from a legal perspective that the contracts are good.
In terms of the clubs, there are a couple of ways I do that. I do a lot of background checking in terms of the of the clubs including their previous appointment of Australian girls. Then I speak to the players about their experiences with the clubs as well.
So it is no coincidence that a lot of the girls are going clubs that have had in the past a lot of Australian players.
What is the biggest obstacle you face in the process?
The biggest obstacle is in relation to the money side of things. Everyone thinks that there is much more money overseas and there is not. People need to understand that the players are going overseas for experience and it is not financial.
They are leaving jobs, they are leaving family so the obstacle is getting the girls to understand that it's not purely a financial decision. They are going for international exposure and experience. It is good for their profile.
At the end of the day, its negotiating a deal that is not going to cost them money but it is worthwhile for them to go as well.
How do you then support the players once they are overseas?
Through the process there is obviously an establishment of a relationships with the club. Then I just maintain that contact with the right people at those clubs. Checking in regularly with the players, checking in the clubs to make sure everything is okay.
All the clubs have been great and that just shows that we have been prudent in terms of the clubs that we have been talking too.
Australian players are seemingly more marketable commodities. How much has that grown or improved over the years?
You look at all the recent announcements for the players, they are big votes of confidence in terms of the Australian players. They are special players and I think they are going to be really successful.
The reputation of Australian players is growing globally. We have had clubs from places like Russia interested, which I didn’t even know they had a competition! Definitely from a reputation point of view, everyone that has gone in the past has paved the way. I think also being quite successful in the World Cup has helped that.
What is your advice to any players who do look beyond Australia to play football?
My advice is that there is no rush. It is important that they establish themselves here in the W-League. I think that is an important process.
They have got to understand that it is not easy to go over to another country. Quite often you are living on your own, without people that you know. You have to be prepared mentally for it all.
My advice is; get yourself established in the W-League, make sure that you are right from a mental point of view and then go through the process carefully.
What is it about being a player manager give you satisfaction?
I just enjoy giving them support. It is not a financial decision to be involved in women's football and my satisfaction is just seeing some of these players getting offers coming through. I am completely satisfied when we get them done and seeing the girls secure some sponsorships and to see them start to get simply what they deserve.