Infotainment Factory: How women's sport became pride of Australia

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Friday, 9 November 2018

How women's sport became pride of Australia


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Australia's men's cricket team is reeling from the fallout of the ball-tampering scandal, the Wallabies have had one of their worst international seasons in history and the Socceroos face a long rebuilding process following a rocky 2018 World Cup campaign.

While the country’s major men’s international teams face astonishing turmoil, women’s sport in Australia has never been stronger.

With sport playing such a major role in our national identity and culture, it’s the country’s best and brightest from the fairer sex who have stepped up to fill the void in our sporting national pride.

Domestic competitions in just about all the major codes have finally gone professional and for our female footballers and cricketers there’s never been a better time to be wearing the green and gold.

The influx of funding to women's sport has been a major focus at all levels of government and among Australia's sport governing bodies in recent years. The public have also gotten right behind initiatives to support women in sports, turning out in larger numbers than ever before, and the media too have increased their coverage across TV, print, radio and online.

The rewards have been clear to see, especially in those two sports.

The Southern Stars are currently ranked no.1 in the world, and The Matildas are ranked sixth in FIFA rankings.

Though it would be unfair to make a straight comparison between the men’s and women's games, it is worth noting that the Socceroos have slumped to no.42 in FIFA rankings, while the Aussie men's cricket teams have plummeted to be world no.5 in Test cricket, ranked sixth in ODI and third in T20 formats.

While it presents a disappointing trend for the men, there arises a massive opportunity for both codes in the women's game.

This weekend the Southern Stars will begin their quest to win back the World Twenty20 title in the Caribbean.

Defending champions the West Indies defeated the Aussies in 2016 to deny them their fourth-straight championship, and in reclaiming the title there's more than just revenge at stake.

Australia's female cricket stars have a chance, for the first time in a long time, to outshine the men's side, and be a beacon of light amidst the dark shadow that has followed the sport since the ball-tampering saga in March.

The much-publicised culture review into the state of the sport - prompted by the ball-tampering scandal involving David Warner, Steve Smith and Cameron Bancroft - was highly critical of Cricket Australia, and the leaders at all levels in the men's game. The women however were notably exempt from any negative findings in that review, suggesting that side of the sport is in far healthier shape.

Meanwhile the men's coach, captain and vice-captain (suspended), and Cricket Australia's chief executive, chairman, director and high-performance director, all bit the dust as a result of the review's findings.

And it wouldn't be surprising if the organisation's blood-letting continued as the debate over Australian cricket culture in the men's team continues to be played out in a very public game of news-grab ping-pong.

The loss of Smith, Warner and Bancroft rocked the men's side, and in their absence the team has been scrambling to fill the void and steady the ship, chalking up 15 losses since March's drama in South Africa.

While it's been a regrettable year for the Australian men's team since their Ashes victory in the summer, the women have been firing on a 16-match winning streak, and are showing no signs of slowing down. They've only lost once in 2018.

In football, there hasn't been the same level of controversy following the Socceroos. But they have been hugely affected by a changing of the guard in the squad, and the instability caused by ex-coach Ange Postecoglou's shock departure months out from their World Cup trip.

The FFA have also faced scrutiny at board level this year and in issues surrounding the domestic competition, the A-League. The short-term hire of Bert van Marwijk for the Russia World Cup also led to criticism, with Graham Arnold given the reins after they were knocked out in the group stage.

The Matildas though have been the jewel in the crown of Australian football.

https://twitter.com/TheMatildas/status/1060759102098333696

A large chunk of the squad have been playing together as Matildas since they were teenagers, and now in their 20s they have grown to become a formidable team, playing a very attractive style of football.

They're proven world-beaters. This year in the Tournament of Nations they scored upset victories over Japan and Brazil, and drew with the eventual champions USA, who narrowly finished above the Aussies on goal difference.

In April they copped a heartbreaking defeat to Japan in the Asian Cup but along the way captivated the nation as they took scalp after scalp en route to the final.

Let’s not forget too that Matildas star Sam Kerr has become a genuine household name in Australian sport thanks to her lethal scoring ability and back-flip goal celebrations. Her face is plastered across international Nike football campaigns for good reason.

She took out the 2017 AFC women's player of the year award, last year she became the all-time leading scorer in the USA's prestigious NWSL, she broke the record for most goals scored to claim the NWSL golden boot and was named the league's MVP, and this year Kerr once again won the competition's golden boot.

When she inexplicably missed out on the FIFA women's player of the year award earlier this year, Australian football fans could not hide their outrage, taking to social media to vent their frustration.

In the W-League playing for Perth Glory this season Kerr continues to be a major drawcard, so much so the W-League website has a dedicated article listing all the matches fans can watch her play.

https://twitter.com/WLeague/status/1058599656425512960

This weekend in western Sydney she'll again be one of the main attractions in the green and gold when the Matildas play Chile.

Though recent matches haven't quite gone to plan for the Matildas - they lost 2-0 to fourth-ranked France and drew 1-1 with world no. 3 England - they plan on regaining their international form in upcoming World Cup qualifiers on home soil.

On Saturday afternoon it's expected that their match at Panthers Stadium will be a sell-out, as it was in their clash with Brazil late last year.

In Newcastle on Tuesday night 15,000 are predicted to go through the turnstiles to cheer on the Matildas.

The FFA can see a trend and they know how vital it is to ride this unprecedented wave of support for women's football.

The FFA officially helped launch the 2023 bid campaign for the Women's World Cup late last month, and Australia is in with a real shot of earning that opportunity to host.

The lessons from the failed 2022 World Cup bid for the men’s FIFA World Cup would surely be fresh in the memory of the FFA and the government, but the organisation is confident of a different outcome thanks to the growth of the women's game on the back of the incredible success of the Matildas.

The federal government put their money where their mouth is throwing $5 million towards the bid and are encouraging Australians to 'Get Onside' and go to AusBid2023.com to show their support before a decision is made on the host nation in mid 2019.

In Penrith showing that support will be more vital than ever.

The Socceroos of course still hold a place in all Australian football fans' hearts, but the Matildas are gaining on them at a rapid rate. Gone are the days when the Matildas were an afterthought. They used to run around in the previous national football kit design while the men wore the latest kit. This year they rocked the same Nike threads as the men, at the same time.

The signs are obvious. Women's football and women's cricket are on the up, and right now is time to jump on that bandwagon - that is, if you haven't already. 

The Southern Stars will kick off their World T20 campaign against Pakistan in Guyana on Saturday morning, Australian time. The match will be broadcast live and free on Nine from 7am (AEDT).

Australia's men's cricket team is reeling from the fallout of the ball-tampering scandal, the Wallabies have had one of their worst international seasons in history and the Socceroos face a long rebuilding process following a rocky 2018 World Cup campaign.

While the country’s major men’s international teams face astonishing turmoil, women’s sport in Australia has never been stronger.

With sport playing such a major role in our national identity and culture, it’s the country’s best and brightest from the fairer sex who have stepped up to fill the void in our sporting national pride.

Domestic competitions in just about all the major codes have finally gone professional and for our female footballers and cricketers there’s never been a better time to be wearing the green and gold.

The influx of funding to women's sport has been a major focus at all levels of government and among Australia's sport governing bodies in recent years. The public have also gotten right behind initiatives to support women in sports, turning out in larger numbers than ever before, and the media too have increased their coverage across TV, print, radio and online.

The rewards have been clear to see, especially in those two sports.

The Southern Stars are currently ranked no.1 in the world, and The Matildas are ranked sixth in FIFA rankings.

Though it would be unfair to make a straight comparison between the men’s and women's games, it is worth noting that the Socceroos have slumped to no.42 in FIFA rankings, while the Aussie men's cricket teams have plummeted to be world no.5 in Test cricket, ranked sixth in ODI and third in T20 formats.

While it presents a disappointing trend for the men, there arises a massive opportunity for both codes in the women's game.

This weekend the Southern Stars will begin their quest to win back the World Twenty20 title in the Caribbean.

Defending champions the West Indies defeated the Aussies in 2016 to deny them their fourth-straight championship, and in reclaiming the title there's more than just revenge at stake.

Australia's female cricket stars have a chance, for the first time in a long time, to outshine the men's side, and be a beacon of light amidst the dark shadow that has followed the sport since the ball-tampering saga in March.

The much-publicised culture review into the state of the sport - prompted by the ball-tampering scandal involving David Warner, Steve Smith and Cameron Bancroft - was highly critical of Cricket Australia, and the leaders at all levels in the men's game. The women however were notably exempt from any negative findings in that review, suggesting that side of the sport is in far healthier shape.

Meanwhile the men's coach, captain and vice-captain (suspended), and Cricket Australia's chief executive, chairman, director and high-performance director, all bit the dust as a result of the review's findings.

And it wouldn't be surprising if the organisation's blood-letting continued as the debate over Australian cricket culture in the men's team continues to be played out in a very public game of news-grab ping-pong.

The loss of Smith, Warner and Bancroft rocked the men's side, and in their absence the team has been scrambling to fill the void and steady the ship, chalking up 15 losses since March's drama in South Africa.

While it's been a regrettable year for the Australian men's team since their Ashes victory in the summer, the women have been firing on a 16-match winning streak, and are showing no signs of slowing down. They've only lost once in 2018.

In football, there hasn't been the same level of controversy following the Socceroos. But they have been hugely affected by a changing of the guard in the squad, and the instability caused by ex-coach Ange Postecoglou's shock departure months out from their World Cup trip.

The FFA have also faced scrutiny at board level this year and in issues surrounding the domestic competition, the A-League. The short-term hire of Bert van Marwijk for the Russia World Cup also led to criticism, with Graham Arnold given the reins after they were knocked out in the group stage.

The Matildas though have been the jewel in the crown of Australian football.

https://twitter.com/TheMatildas/status/1060759102098333696

A large chunk of the squad have been playing together as Matildas since they were teenagers, and now in their 20s they have grown to become a formidable team, playing a very attractive style of football.

They're proven world-beaters. This year in the Tournament of Nations they scored upset victories over Japan and Brazil, and drew with the eventual champions USA, who narrowly finished above the Aussies on goal difference.

In April they copped a heartbreaking defeat to Japan in the Asian Cup but along the way captivated the nation as they took scalp after scalp en route to the final.

Let’s not forget too that Matildas star Sam Kerr has become a genuine household name in Australian sport thanks to her lethal scoring ability and back-flip goal celebrations. Her face is plastered across international Nike football campaigns for good reason.

She took out the 2017 AFC women's player of the year award, last year she became the all-time leading scorer in the USA's prestigious NWSL, she broke the record for most goals scored to claim the NWSL golden boot and was named the league's MVP, and this year Kerr once again won the competition's golden boot.

When she inexplicably missed out on the FIFA women's player of the year award earlier this year, Australian football fans could not hide their outrage, taking to social media to vent their frustration.

In the W-League playing for Perth Glory this season Kerr continues to be a major drawcard, so much so the W-League website has a dedicated article listing all the matches fans can watch her play.

https://twitter.com/WLeague/status/1058599656425512960

This weekend in western Sydney she'll again be one of the main attractions in the green and gold when the Matildas play Chile.

Though recent matches haven't quite gone to plan for the Matildas - they lost 2-0 to fourth-ranked France and drew 1-1 with world no. 3 England - they plan on regaining their international form in upcoming World Cup qualifiers on home soil.

On Saturday afternoon it's expected that their match at Panthers Stadium will be a sell-out, as it was in their clash with Brazil late last year.

In Newcastle on Tuesday night 15,000 are predicted to go through the turnstiles to cheer on the Matildas.

The FFA can see a trend and they know how vital it is to ride this unprecedented wave of support for women's football.

The FFA officially helped launch the 2023 bid campaign for the Women's World Cup late last month, and Australia is in with a real shot of earning that opportunity to host.

The lessons from the failed 2022 World Cup bid for the men’s FIFA World Cup would surely be fresh in the memory of the FFA and the government, but the organisation is confident of a different outcome thanks to the growth of the women's game on the back of the incredible success of the Matildas.

The federal government put their money where their mouth is throwing $5 million towards the bid and are encouraging Australians to 'Get Onside' and go to AusBid2023.com to show their support before a decision is made on the host nation in mid 2019.

In Penrith showing that support will be more vital than ever.

The Socceroos of course still hold a place in all Australian football fans' hearts, but the Matildas are gaining on them at a rapid rate. Gone are the days when the Matildas were an afterthought. They used to run around in the previous national football kit design while the men wore the latest kit. This year they rocked the same Nike threads as the men, at the same time.

The signs are obvious. Women's football and women's cricket are on the up, and right now is time to jump on that bandwagon - that is, if you haven't already. 

The Southern Stars will kick off their World T20 campaign against Pakistan in Guyana on Saturday morning, Australian time. The match will be broadcast live and free on Nine from 7am (AEDT).

https://ift.tt/2T0GvIs
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