I will confess that I am not much of a soccer fan (male or female) but on Saturday night I joined nearly 5million other Australians who were on the edge of their seats watching the Matilda’s. With this surge of interest in the team it got me to thinking…
The Matildas who are Australia’s women’s soccer team (clearly for those reading this who are not in Australia) have cemented themselves as one of Australia’s most loved brands after their recent Soccer World Cup win against France in a nail-biting penalty-shootout. The total TV audience reached over 4.9million viewers which does not include out of home viewing at pubs, clubs and pop-up live sites. This exceeds any AFL or NRL grand slams, putting The Matilda’s second on the most viewed sporting events in Australia behind Cathy Freeman’s epic 400 meter win at the Sydney Olympics in 2000. Interestingly, the third most watched sporting event was Ash Barty’s Australian Open win in 2022. That makes the 3 most viewed sporting events in Australian history all played by females. A sure sign that the old argument that women’s sport is not interesting, is outdated and antiquated.
But the road to beloved brand status has not been quick or easy. Did you know that the first all female soccer match was played back in the 1920’s? Over 100 years ago. In 1922, some states actually banned women from playing organised matches for ‘medical and aesthetic’ reasons, after all ‘it is a man’s sport’. Despite the lack of support, women continued to play local club and social games which mostly flew under the radar, receiving little media coverage and almost no funding.
In the 1980s and mid-90s the sport grew amongst women when the Australian team qualified for their first FIFA World Cup. It was at the 2007 World Cup they were nicknamed ‘the Matildas’ when they made the knockout round for the first time. That was 16 years ago! The Matildas have become one of the most successful and popular women’s soccer teams in the world with women’s soccer gaining more and more support worldwide.
Nike confirmed that The Matilda’s sold more official jerseys ahead of the FIFA Women’s World Cup than the men’s team managed during and since the male equivalent tournament last year. And that was before the tournament even started.
Fans now flock to their games and clamber to purchase jerseys from their favourite teams. Nike and Adidas have been slammed by fans who have searched in vane to find jersey’s worn by the goalkeepers who have shown tenacity, grit and focus during some epic matches. Over 40,000 signatures have been collected to petition the lack of goal keeper apparel, clearly showing that people around the world are loving women’s soccer and that teams like The Matilda’s are becoming brands themselves.
With all of that in mind it is still mind-blowing that Harry Souttar, the highest earning Socceroo player in 2023 earns almost 8 times more than Sam Kerr who is the highest paid Matilda. Hopefully with the spotlight firmly on the Matilda’s this World Cup, the tides will turn.
4 Ways The Matilda’s have cemented themselves as a beloved Aussie brand
Let’s take a look at what has turned The Matilda’s from a women’s soccer team into a much loved brand and a symbol of national pride:
Strong performances on the field:
The Matildas have consistently competed at the highest level, and have won numerous trophies. This has earned them the respect of fans and the media alike. The team has qualified for every FIFA Women’s World Cup since 1995, and has reached the knockout stages on three occasions. The Matildas also won the 2010 Asian Cup, and finished runners-up in 2014 and 2018.
Positive attitude and determination:
The Matildas are known for their never-say-die attitude and their willingness to fight for every ball. This makes them an inspiring team to watch, and has helped to win them a large following. They have won over fans with their determination and positive attitude.
Sportsmanship and humility:
The Matildas are always gracious in victory and defeat. They are known for their commitment to social justice and equality. This makes them a role model for young girls and women around the world.
Strong commercial appeal:
The Matildas have signed lucrative sponsorship deals with major companies such as CommBank, Nike and Qantas. They have also appeared in a number of television commercials and other promotional materials. This has helped to make them a highly valuable brand.
Of course the increasing popularity of women’s soccer in Australia has played a role in The Matilda’s profile – or is it The Matilda’s popularity that has spiked the increase in women’s soccer?
The Matildas are an inspiration to athletes and fans alike. They have shown that anything is possible if you set your mind to it and are a truly beloved and highly valuable brand. Their story is one that will continue to inspire for years to come.