But despite fans in an utter frenzy over the semi-final clash, win or lose, the team have cemented themselves as heroes of Australian sport.
“Regardless of what happens, what we need to do is to have a proper celebration for the Matildas and their achievements,” Prime Minister Anthony Albanese shared while discussing the possibility of a public holiday if the team won the comp and took out the World Cup. “It has been extraordinary the way that they’ve carried themselves, not just on the field during a game but afterwards as well.”
While they’ve already made history by reaching the semi-finals, this squad will be remembered for much more than that impressive achievement. Earlier this year, the team reached a collective bargaining agreement with Football Australia that guarantees they get the same minimum percentage of prize money from events as the men’s team, the Socceroos, along with the same conditions – the first female football team in the world to do so. They also continue to be the catalyst for change in other areas of sport and the community.
“I genuinely really believe that this team can create history in so many ways, not just winning football games,” head coach Tony Gustavsson says of his golden girls. “The way that they can inspire the next generation, how they unite a nation or they can leave a legacy that’s so much bigger than 90 minutes of football.”
Whether the outcome of the final game that the Matildas will play agains Sweden is in our favour or not, the iconic team will leave the tournament having won the hearts of the nation. Many will go back to their international A-League clubs, from England to Europe and the US. Some have weddings to plan, with four team members getting engaged within the last year. And all of them will be soaking up quiet moments with their family and friends before they reunite again on the field in October for the 2024 Olympic qualifiers.
After their memorable efforts, one thing is for certain. “What we’ve done has changed women’s sport in Australia,” explains Ellie Carpenter. “This is what we wanted to do. We wanted to inspire the next generation and pave the way for women’s football in Australia.”
Stats & Facts
- 11.15 million: The people who tuned in to watch the semifinals game on Seven
- 1978: The year the women’s team officially formed
- 1995: The year the newly-dubbed ‘matildas’ qualified for their first world cup
- $20,000: The amount they were paid in 2015 to play per year, a 10th of the socceroos salary at the time