PROTECT HAYLEY RASO

Hayley Raso. 

There’s been a cry amongst Matildas fans ever since Raso injured her back in the US. It’s “PROTECT HAYLEY RASO AT ALL COST”. This mantra should be across the board for all players. However the reality that this incident involved Raso makes the issue surrounding player welfare all the more stark given what has happened involving a player fans so clearly care for.

Let’s go back to the start.

Last week against Melbourne Victory, we all literally stopped like Angela Beard, held our breath and demanded the best medical attention to Raso upon the accidental injury the flying winger’s hand incurred. We were told it was “nothing structural” in a club statement a day or two later. A sigh of relief. 

HOWEVER

Raso was on the pitch against the Wanderers on Thursday. What a recovery supposedly. For a player who looked in complete agony only seven days prior.

In theory, purely on the match, any coach would want to start Raso against the Wanderers. Up against slow fullbacks, in a squad otherwise boasting of star studded quality, that slight advantage is a game changer.

Trouble is, Raso should never have been on that pitch. With her hand in a cast, there were times she looked in utter pain on the park. No player should be required to play through obvious pain like that. Whether it’s a matter of the player wanting to start or not, the club and coaches have a duty of care that means not fielding players who are injured. 

The fact it was Raso’s hand in a cast and not her foot, doesn’t mean it’s ok for her to play because it’s not required to run or kick.

The full extent of Raso’s injury hasn’t been revealed, but it doesn’t take an einstein to realise she should never have been on the pitch, and at the very least subbed off after the first knock. By the time she was on the floor requiring medical attention in the second half? It was a mockery on any idea of being compassionate and merciful to your players.

It’s never, ever a players fault a club haven’t recruited well enough to deal with injuries. If the reason a player is playing through injury is because the replacements aren’t up to standard? Then that’s on the club, not the player.

There were dazzling moments during the game in an end to end match. 

But the most significant moment in my mind was when Raso moved to the bench and made it clear she wasn’t leaving, despite that substitution board not having her number on it. That was the moment for me where I felt like flipping the Brisbane coach the bird and starting a petition to let her go on holiday until her hand is fully mended.

Players deserve better treatment. If they’re hurt, don’t play them. 

I had planned on talking about other things in this round. The penalties, the players who rose to the world class level of those around them, defender runs and saves by the keepers. I seriously, seriously wanted to talk about and brag on how three of The Kids had debuts this week. Two in South Korea for Victory with Alana Jancevski and Paige Zois, as well as my favourite player Hana Lowry hitting the park for a couple minutes against Sydney FC for Perth Glory.

However, there needs to be continued conversation around player welfare. Across all levels of football, player welfare must be a priority but unfortunately so often isn’t. Winning games at all cost is a mentality that destroys people and clubs. 

People must come first. Always.

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