IT has taken four decades, but former Matildas midfielder Tracie McGovern says it's about time players from Australia's two footballing flagships were given an equal slice of the pie.
A groundbreaking four-year centralised contract system was announced by Football Federation Australia on November 6.
It will encompass the next World Cups, meaning players from both teams will now receive a 24 per cent share of national team revenue, rising by one per cent each year.
Essentially, the more success each team has, the more the players will be paid.
McGovern was born in Wauchope and pulled on the green and gold jumper four times between 1997 and 1999.
She is one of three Matildas with links to Wauchope along with current W-League stars Rhali Dobson and Caitlin Cooper.
"This day is 40 years of sacrifice in the making," she said of Wednesday's announcement.
Anyone who thinks the women's national team deserves less ... I don't think they're real football fans or they don't understand how this will better the future of both men's and women's football in Australia.- Tracie McGovern
"We wear the same coat of arms and spend the same time away from family and friends touring on the world stage.
"Anyone who thinks the women's national team deserves less ... I don't think they're real football fans or they don't understand how this will better the future of both men's and women's football in Australia."
The 41-year-old remembers a time when players had to sew their own patches on their playing strips and had to pay their own way.
"There were 26 players that relocated their whole life to move to the Australian Institute of Sport to train for the Sydney Olympics," she said.
"20 were put into the AIS and six of us didn't get the full scholarship so we had to pay rent and live outside the AIS."
Over the years, young girls have woken up and said they want to play football in winter.
"Now, they can say I want to be a footballer when I grow up and they can because there will be that financial security where they can make a living from it," she said.
"There have been small stepping stones along the way, but the big thing is that the Matildas haven't just turned up, become a team and started playing really well against top sides around the world.
"They've been around for 40 years."
Another former Matilda in Rhali Dobson is currently contracted to Melbourne City in the W-League.
She said the news of an equal share of earnings for players in the national team made Australia global leaders in the world football community.
But with any groundbreaking deal came responsibilities.
"It's nice to see that the success we've had in recent times had been rewarded," she said.
"It also means at the same time we have to step it up a notch in terms of our professionalism and performances."
With the top tier of players now able to earn what they are worth, the challenge now was for it to filter down throughout the code.
"You have to start somewhere," Dobson said.
"Most of us started at a grassroots level, so now we want our top professionals to be receiving the best that they can, but at the same time we've all come from somewhere.
"I don't want the young ones to experience some of the things I had to go through to get to where I am."
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