It’s been just over one week since the conclusion of the biggest and best FIFA Women’s World Cup™ ever. There’s no doubt that this tournament has been a turning point for football across Australia after generations of women’s sport being underestimated.
Historically, we were told that no one watches. We were told we were not good enough, and that no one cared. But the FIFA Women’s World Cup Australia & New Zealand 2023™ has proven the exact opposite.
Just ask the 7.2 million people (11.15 million peak) who tuned into the CommBank Matildas semi-final against England. Or the close to 2 million men, women and children who bought tickets and attended a match across Australia and New Zealand.
Over the past four weeks, the CommBank Matildas have broken records as the first Australian football team to reach a semi-final at a World Cup. They survived the longest-ever penalty shoot-out at a World Cup. They scored incredible goals and they made the nation proud.
Almost 750,000 people attended the Fan Festivals and live sites to watch games. Australian merch was sold out, and you couldn’t walk down the street without overhearing a conversation about the CommBank Matildas.
But this World Cup went beyond just football. For the last month, national team heroes represented not only their country but their diversity and Pride. Not only seen as aspirational role models for little girls, young boys and men flocked to sold-out stadiums to see the CommBank Matildas take on the world's greatest.
For arguably the first time ever, the value of sport is not being determined by the sex of the athletes playing it, but by the quality and engagement of the football being played.
The FIFA Women’s World Cup Australia & New Zealand 2023™ has forever changed the sporting landscape in Australia. The visibility of women as players, coaches, officials, broadcasters, administrators, and fans of the game will leave a lasting impact for the next generation who are empowered to follow in their footsteps.
Inaugural programs such as the Our Game media program are supporting more women and non-binary people to work in women’s football.
The most significant legacy this World Cup has left is a mindset shift. Talented women athletes have always existed, but now the world is recognising their hard work and aptitude on a global scale. We can see it in the $200 million invested into women's sport by the federal government. We can see it in the exponential growth of commercial investment in women’s elite sport. And we can see it in the way all of Australia rallied to support our women’s national team.
Everyone in the community has a part to play in ensuring the momentum of this World Cup continues. Many of the players in our CommBank Matildas team have played in the A-League Women at one point or another.
The only way to continue producing elite Matildas players is if we continue to support women’s football. So, what do we need to do next, as individuals and as a nation?
We need to keep watching, talking about and supporting women’s football. We need to invite our families and friends into the community because football is for everyone and we saw firsthand how it can unite a nation.
Whether it's taking them to games, encouraging them to sign up at a local club as a player, volunteer or administrator or sponsoring and investing in the future of women's football, the momentum that has been created by this World Cup can only be continued by keeping the conversation going.