Sam Kerr Surprises No One With Comments About Awful Conditions At Sky Blue
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In her post-game interview on July 7 after playing former club Sky Blue, Chicago Red Stars forward Sam Kerr did not want to talk about her hat-trick or the satisfaction of clinching three points on the road. Rather, Kerr used the mic in front of her to say this: “I wish things were better here [at Sky Blue]. I’m just going to say the girls deserve better and I’m just going to leave it at that. These girls are great girls. They give everything of themselves for this club and this league and they just deserve better. I wish I could take every single one of them with me but that's not the way it is. I felt like I was going to cry at some points in the game”
Kerr alluded to a stormy state of affairs at the New Jersey club that for many, sadly, was not breaking news at all. A recent exposé, using interviews with those close to the team past and present, rattles off a laundry list of troubles that have plagued Sky Blue for years — everything from players having to move living accommodations multiple times a season to pathetic training facilities to a disconnected general manager who scoffs at the teams’ needs.
It's no wonder that players joke that it’s a semi-pro team or an “under-25 team” (a reference to Sky Blue’s slew of early retirements which were “directly linked to Sky Blue’s inept management”). Discomfort, discouragement and disrespect run rampant at the club. They’re not even making the (valid) argument for a pay raise, they’re simply asking to know where they’re going to live and to have a reasonable locker room.
What’s more, a culture of silence has developed. Players are told to keep their mouth shut about issues. After all, the “average,” not-USWNT NWSL player is told they’re expandable — they’re given the message that they can be waived, traded and regardless, the club will be okay because there are a couple dozen female soccer players who would kill to have any spot in arguably the best professional women’s soccer league.
A star like Kerr putting a noteworthy face to this narrative could perhaps be the catalyst for change, finally.
Shortly after Kerr’s comments, Sky Blue released a statement:
— Sky Blue FC (@SkyBlueFC) July 9, 2018
Now, the NWSL Players Association is involved in the situation, saying it is fully aware of the issues at hand and making known its desire to work with the club to improve conditions.
Let’s hope meaningful, structural adjustments can be made at the club sooner rather than later. Sky Blue has the capability to become not just a quality soccer team but an organization of which players are excited and proud to be a member. They don’t need to be the next club to close up shop like Boston Breakers did last season, but everyone within the administration needs to listen and to respect the people who put on the jersey each week.