live Infotainment Factory: Matildas legend's huge World Cup call

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Tuesday, 21 May 2019

Matildas legend's huge World Cup call


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Matildas legend Cheryl Salisbury says the time is now for women's sport to take its next leap in to the mainstream as Australia prepares to fill the bandwagon for a FIFA World Cup campaign of immense promise.

Never before has Australia had a side with a genuine chance of winning one of the world's most prestigious tournaments but with Sam Kerr leading the way, this Matildas side feels different.

And a team with the talent to match the world's footballing superpowers is starting to build a profile commensurate with its global status.

Matildas legends Heather Garriock (left) and Cheryl Salisbury (right) flank Socceroos legend Johnny Aloisi and two North Sydney United juniors juggling a ball at an Optus Sport announcement.

When the FIFA Women's World Cup gets under way in France next month, the Matildas will have significantly more home support than they've ever enjoyed before.

That's not a slight on the teams of the past, it's a reality of Australian sport's new world order, with female sports finally starting to get the recognition they deserve and Kerr and the Matildas leading the way.

To capitalise on the surge of goodwill being felt by women's sport, Optus Sport is seizing the moment through a promotion that gives every Australian school student under 20 the chance to watch every single women's World Cup match free of charge.

Optus Sport's comprehensive coverage of the tournament will bolster the smaller selection of matches being broadcast by SBS, which will show the tournament opener, each of Australia's matches, selected Round of 16 matches and every match from the quarter-finals to the final.

It's the kind of exposure women's football, and women's sport in general, was crying out for when Salisbury was racking up an incredible 151 international caps, including four World Cup campaigns.

While she's envious of the current crop, she's also conscious of the opportunity knocking on the door.

"I think this is a big thing for Optus to be covering every game at the World Cup and not just the Matildas games but every game at the World Cup," Salisbury told Wide World of Sports.

"This is massive exposure that the kids are going to see and that's the sort of thing that ... yes it does cost money, but the investment that we're going to see for the Matildas down the track and just in women's sport and women's football, it's going to leapfrog."

Salisbury says she knew this day would come.

During an international career that spanned 16 years, the history-making centre back arguably made the biggest splash in the mainstream when she posed with 11 teammates for a nude calendar photoshoot to raise money for the national team.

Twenty years later a publicity grab like that is not only unnecessary from a financial point-of-view it would elicit a very different response from the public. While the shocking social media reaction to the Tayla Harris photo published earlier this year shows there are still battles to be won, for the most part they've moved to the fringes.

Salisbury puts that down to increased funding for women's sport and a warmer embrace from the media and the corporate world.

However, she's adamant we've still got a long way to go before the Matildas, the W-League and other women's sports reach parity with their male counterparts in Australia.

"I always knew the potential was there, it was just whether those governing bodies and the public and businesses wanted to support it," Salisbury said.

"Look at every sport that's taken off, even the A-League; the A-League's 14 years old now and they're still fighting to get as many crowd numbers as rugby league or the cricket and those types of things.

"So it's a constant battle to keep working and keep fighting, it's just no one ever wanted to do it for women's sport or women's football."

For many, the strongest argument for why women's sport doesn't attract as much money or publicity as it does for the men is its inability to generate enough interest to sustain itself.

However, Salisbury sees that as a self-defeating argument that fails to acknowledge the chicken and egg effect.

"People aren't going to turn up to W-League games or the Matildas unless it's advertised," Salisbury said.

"They're not going to turn up unless they see it on TV or hear it on the radio, unless it's advertised. That can come down to TV stations or whoever it is who decide what sports they're going to promote on the TV or in the news and you look at it today and still 99 per cent of it is men's sport.

"Unless we know something's happening, your general mum and dad that's at home; they might have a young daughter who's into cricket but if they don't know that there's cricket on at the weekend or that it was on they don't know that it's there and the kids don't see it."

Perhaps for the first time in history we, the mainstream, not only know that the upcoming World Cup is happening, we know at least some of the names and faces representing us in France.

A bit of extra money and recognition has bred success, which has been leveraged to create the truly professional high performance environment needed to harbour genuine ambitions of winning a World Cup.

Olympic swimmer Leisel Jones and WBBL cricketer Holly Ferling join football legends Heather Garriock, John Aloisi and Cheryl Salisbury at an Optus Sport announcement with kids from North Sydney United.

"It's no coincidence that the players have started to get more promotion and then started to win the bigger games," Salisbury said.

"It all happened in little increments; the more the Matildas got in exposure - and yes more pay, which meant they didn't have to work and they could focus more on training and being at training and working as a team and having more training camps - meant that they played better, which meant they started to beat the better teams, which meant people started looking.

"But that took the initial investment to invest in the team when things weren't going 100 per cent to build that team to what it is today."

Matildas legend Cheryl Salisbury says the time is now for women's sport to take its next leap in to the mainstream as Australia prepares to fill the bandwagon for a FIFA World Cup campaign of immense promise.

Never before has Australia had a side with a genuine chance of winning one of the world's most prestigious tournaments but with Sam Kerr leading the way, this Matildas side feels different.

And a team with the talent to match the world's footballing superpowers is starting to build a profile commensurate with its global status.

Matildas legends Heather Garriock (left) and Cheryl Salisbury (right) flank Socceroos legend Johnny Aloisi and two North Sydney United juniors juggling a ball at an Optus Sport announcement.

When the FIFA Women's World Cup gets under way in France next month, the Matildas will have significantly more home support than they've ever enjoyed before.

That's not a slight on the teams of the past, it's a reality of Australian sport's new world order, with female sports finally starting to get the recognition they deserve and Kerr and the Matildas leading the way.

To capitalise on the surge of goodwill being felt by women's sport, Optus Sport is seizing the moment through a promotion that gives every Australian school student under 20 the chance to watch every single women's World Cup match free of charge.

Optus Sport's comprehensive coverage of the tournament will bolster the smaller selection of matches being broadcast by SBS, which will show the tournament opener, each of Australia's matches, selected Round of 16 matches and every match from the quarter-finals to the final.

It's the kind of exposure women's football, and women's sport in general, was crying out for when Salisbury was racking up an incredible 151 international caps, including four World Cup campaigns.

While she's envious of the current crop, she's also conscious of the opportunity knocking on the door.

"I think this is a big thing for Optus to be covering every game at the World Cup and not just the Matildas games but every game at the World Cup," Salisbury told Wide World of Sports.

"This is massive exposure that the kids are going to see and that's the sort of thing that ... yes it does cost money, but the investment that we're going to see for the Matildas down the track and just in women's sport and women's football, it's going to leapfrog."

Salisbury says she knew this day would come.

During an international career that spanned 16 years, the history-making centre back arguably made the biggest splash in the mainstream when she posed with 11 teammates for a nude calendar photoshoot to raise money for the national team.

Twenty years later a publicity grab like that is not only unnecessary from a financial point-of-view it would elicit a very different response from the public. While the shocking social media reaction to the Tayla Harris photo published earlier this year shows there are still battles to be won, for the most part they've moved to the fringes.

Salisbury puts that down to increased funding for women's sport and a warmer embrace from the media and the corporate world.

However, she's adamant we've still got a long way to go before the Matildas, the W-League and other women's sports reach parity with their male counterparts in Australia.

"I always knew the potential was there, it was just whether those governing bodies and the public and businesses wanted to support it," Salisbury said.

"Look at every sport that's taken off, even the A-League; the A-League's 14 years old now and they're still fighting to get as many crowd numbers as rugby league or the cricket and those types of things.

"So it's a constant battle to keep working and keep fighting, it's just no one ever wanted to do it for women's sport or women's football."

For many, the strongest argument for why women's sport doesn't attract as much money or publicity as it does for the men is its inability to generate enough interest to sustain itself.

However, Salisbury sees that as a self-defeating argument that fails to acknowledge the chicken and egg effect.

"People aren't going to turn up to W-League games or the Matildas unless it's advertised," Salisbury said.

"They're not going to turn up unless they see it on TV or hear it on the radio, unless it's advertised. That can come down to TV stations or whoever it is who decide what sports they're going to promote on the TV or in the news and you look at it today and still 99 per cent of it is men's sport.

"Unless we know something's happening, your general mum and dad that's at home; they might have a young daughter who's into cricket but if they don't know that there's cricket on at the weekend or that it was on they don't know that it's there and the kids don't see it."

Perhaps for the first time in history we, the mainstream, not only know that the upcoming World Cup is happening, we know at least some of the names and faces representing us in France.

A bit of extra money and recognition has bred success, which has been leveraged to create the truly professional high performance environment needed to harbour genuine ambitions of winning a World Cup.

Olympic swimmer Leisel Jones and WBBL cricketer Holly Ferling join football legends Heather Garriock, John Aloisi and Cheryl Salisbury at an Optus Sport announcement with kids from North Sydney United.

"It's no coincidence that the players have started to get more promotion and then started to win the bigger games," Salisbury said.

"It all happened in little increments; the more the Matildas got in exposure - and yes more pay, which meant they didn't have to work and they could focus more on training and being at training and working as a team and having more training camps - meant that they played better, which meant they started to beat the better teams, which meant people started looking.

"But that took the initial investment to invest in the team when things weren't going 100 per cent to build that team to what it is today."

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