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May 29, 2012
Ellyse Perry, Australia's dual international cricketer and footballer, has been told by Canberra United to quit cricket in order to devote herself completely to the W-League football club.
Winners of the W-League last season, Canberra has since had a change of leadership. The new coach Jitka Klimkova has made it clear to Perry and club management that she does not want any Canberra players splitting their time between sports.
Perry became the first woman to represent Australia in World Cups in two sports, and currently holds down a place in both the Southern Stars national cricket side and the equivalent Australian football team, the Matildas. Now 21, she has successfully split her time between national commitments since the age of 16.
Perry is among the highest profile female athletes in Australia for her feat, and has shone a strong light on women's sport in both cricket and football. However the Canberra chief executive, Heather Reid, has said that if Perry wishes to improve further she will either have to make a choice, or leave the club.
"We have basically given Ellyse an ultimatum," Reid told ABC Radio. "Ellyse needs to choose whether she wants to be a full-time Canberra United player and commit to training every day like everyone else does, or if she still wants to try and mix her cricket commitments with football. Then perhaps she will need to find another club."
So far, Perry has said she wants to go on playing for Canberra while also continuing to play cricket. However she is open to the possibility of leaving the club in order to find another that is more open to her carrying on in both sports.
''I've been very fortunate to be involved with Canberra United for the last three W-League seasons but there are some changes at the club and the coach, Jitka Klimkova, has some different ideas about how the team needs to be run,'' she told the Sydney Morning Herald.
''I fully respect her philosophy, it's certainly her prerogative to change [how things work]. But mixing my football and cricket commitments doesn't work so well in her framework. It seems I'll have to start looking for a new club.
''It's still a long time until the W-League season begins [in November] so I'll weigh it up between now and then. I still want to play both [sports] and hopefully I can play for a club that allows me to do that.''
Cricket Australia and Football Federation Australia are known to be supportive of Perry's dual status and wish it to continue, as the Matildas coach Tom Sermanni and the Southern Stars chief selector Julie Savage have worked together to juggle Perry between their various fixtures. However, at least one member of the Matildas has spoken out, arguing in favour of Perry making a choice.
''About time someone lifted the professional standards of women's football. Having [a] name should [not] get you in a team,'' fellow Matilda Lisa da Vanna said on Twitter. ''Players and teams deserve better. Hopefully these standards carry on to the national team and performance becomes all that matters!''
Daniel Brettig is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo. He tweets hereFeeds: Daniel Brettig
© ESPN EMEA Ltd.
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