BELLES BALL

AS THE W-LEAGUE SEA­SON KICKS OFF, THREE SOC­CER SU­PER­STARS SWAP THEIR FOOTBALL SHORTS FOR FLOORLENGTH GOWNS

Sunday Herald Sun - Stellar - - Q&A - Photography TĀNE COF­FIN Styling GEMMA KEIL Words AL­LEY PAS­COE

OF THE

This isn’t an av­er­age day in the of­fice for Stephanie Cat­ley, Caitlin Fo­ord and El­lie Car­pen­ter. The three West­field Matil­das play­ers are more com­fort­able on a soc­cer field than in front of a cam­era, but at the Stel­lar fash­ion shoot, you wouldn’t know it. Cat­ley, 22, sits in front of a mir­ror as a make-up artist re­touches her face; Fo­ord, 21, stretches out a leg so the stylist can smooth cream into her skin; and Car­pen­ter, 16, lifts her chin for the cam­era, as di­rected by the pho­tog­ra­pher. For foot­ballers, they make con­vinc­ing mod­els.

Cat­ley, who made her se­nior de­but at the age of 15, re­mem­bers her first ever photo shoot. “All I wanted to do was be in shorts and a T-shirt,” says the

Melbourne City FC player. “I re­mem­ber think­ing, ‘I will never be ner­vous for a soc­cer game again.’ Soc­cer is so much more nat­u­ral to me.”

Cat­ley started play­ing in the front yard with her brother and the boys on the street when she was just five years old. Now, the de­fender, who was one of the first women to be on the cover of a FIFA video game, rep­re­sents Aus­tralia on our na­tional team and also plays for the Or­lando Pride in the US. Since start­ing out, she has seen more sup­port for women in sport de­velop. “It’s definitely some­thing that hasn’t been around, so it’s about time,” she says. “We train just as hard and just as much [as the men], so to get recog­ni­tion and sup­port from Aus­tralians has been amaz­ing for our na­tional team and great for the league as well.”

That sup­port will hope­fully trans­late to bet­ter pay and con­di­tions for the play­ers. This sea­son, Football Fed­er­a­tion Aus­tralia is ex­pected to bring in a new base stan­dard to in­crease the min­i­mum-pay rate. Syd­ney FC right-winger Fo­ord is happy to see the change. “In past years there have been some girls on con­tracts who were prob­a­bly los­ing more money than gain­ing [it],” she says. “Hope­fully this does help, so peo­ple don’t have to have a sec­ond job.”

Un­like some of her fel­low play­ers who do sup­ple­ment soc­cer ca­reers with sec­ond jobs, Fo­ord plays full-time. In 2011, at the age of 16, she was the youngest ever Aus­tralian to play at a World Cup. This year she played for the Matil­das at the Rio Olympics. “Com­ing off the Olympics, this W-league is the big­gest one yet; it’s ex­cit­ing,” she says.

Just as ex­cited for this sea­son is West­ern Syd­ney Wan­der­ers player Car­pen­ter. In March, the teenager made her de­but for the Matil­das and be­came the first player – male or fe­male – born in the 21st century to rep­re­sent the Aus­tralian se­nior na­tional team.

“I think a fair amount of peo­ple un­der­es­ti­mated me be­cause of how young I am, but you’ve just got to prove them wrong,” says Car­pen­ter.

And she’s do­ing just that, wak­ing up at 4am to train with the team before sit­ting down to study for six hours at high school. Car­pen­ter cred­its her Matil­das team­mates, in­clud­ing Cat­ley and Fo­ord, for paving the way for the next gen­er­a­tion of fe­male foot­ballers.

“I’m re­ally grate­ful to the older girls for do­ing ev­ery­thing they have and help­ing us young ones out,” she says. The West­field W-league sea­son runs un­til Fe­bru­ary 2017; w-league.com.au.

EL­LIE CAR­PEN­TER WEARS Levi’s jacket, $120, le­vis. com.au; Ae’lkemi dress, $1198, and pants, $798, aelkemi.com; San­dro Paris jacket (worn around waist), $750, (02) 9327 3377; Con­verse shoes, $100, con­verse.com.au; Do­mayne chair, $399, do­may­neon­line.com.au

CAITLIN FO­ORD WEARS Kenzo x H&M coat, $299, hm.com/au; Ae’lkemi dress, $1198, aelkemi.com; Lu­cilla Gray ear­rings, $89, lu­cil­lagray. com; Senso shoes, $239, senso.com.au STEPHANIE CAT­LEY WEARS So­nia Rykiel jacket, $1337, style­bop.com; Iris & Ink ban­deau to

(at left) EL­LIE WEARS Re­becca Val­lance dress, $879, re­bec­ca­v­al­lance. com; TOME shirt (worn un­der­neath), $625, and jeans, $665, tomenyc.com STEPHANIE WEARS Ae’lkemi dress, POA, aelkemi.com; tank top (worn un­der­neath), $27, bonds. com.au; pants, $140, witc

(from left) STEPHANIE WEARS ASOS top, $57, asos.com.au; Maje skirt, $420, (02) 9327 3377 EL­LIE WEARS Off-white jacket, $1427, style­bop. com; Michael Lo Sordo top, $550, michael­losordo.com; Re­becca Val­lance skirt, $689, re­bec­ca­v­al­lance.com CAITLIN WEARS

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