Why the Australian women’s football team are called the Matildas – as they play Sweden

Why the Australian women’s football team are called the Matildas – as they play Sweden

August 19, 2023

Sweden and Australia are vying for third place in the World Cup on Saturday, 19 August – the match kicked off at Brisbane Stadium in Australia at 9am British time.

The starting line-ups for both teams are the same as their previous matches – where Sweden lost to Spain in the quarterfinals and Australia lost to England in the semis.

But people who are newer to the sport may have heard Australia’s women’s team referred to as the ‘Matildas’ for the first time and wondered about the origins of the nickname.

The Matildas name was bestowed on the team for the first time in 1995 before their first Women’s World Cup campaign. Prior to that they had been known as ‘the Female Socceroos,' a feminine version of the nickname used by their male counterparts.

But ahead of the 1995 World Cup, the Australian Women's Soccer Association (AWSA) held a competition in an attempt to find a new name for the team – asking fans to pick a a favourite. Options included the Soccertoos, Blue Flyers, Waratahs, Matildas, and Lorikeets.

The majority of fans who took part in the competition chose Matilda, in reference to the iconic Australian song 'Waltzing Matilda'. The Australian’s men’s football team became known as the Socceroos after the Daily Mirror’s chief soccer writer Tony Horstead coined the term in 1971, with it being adopted the same year.

Australia’s Prime Minister Anthony Albanese has promised $200million Australian dollars for women’s sport following the Matildas’ run to their first Women’s World Cup semifinals.

The government has also said it is working to ensure “iconic” women’s sporting events like the World Cup semifinal are available for Australians to watch for free, following criticism that many World Cup games are behind paywalls.

Meanwhile, the Lionesses are one step away from making World Cup history after beating tournament host’s Australia in a thrilling semi-final.

England beat Australia’s Matildas 3-1 in the nail-biting showdown at the Stadium Australia in Sydney on Wednesday. The Lionesses opened the scoring after 36 minutes when Ella Toone smashed the ball home from 10 yards after Australia failed to clear a cross from Lauren Hemp.

England led at the break but the Matildas’ superstar captain Sam Kerr justified the pre-match hype with a rocket of an equaliser for Australia on 63 minutes. However England secured the win with goals from Lauren Hemp after 71 minutes and Alessia Russo on 86 minutes.

England are set to Spain in the final in Sydney on Sunday. La Roja reached their first Women's World Cup final with a 2-1 win over Sweden on Tuesday – with captain Olga Carmona scoring an 89th-minute winner to spark jubilant scenes among their supporters at Eden Park, Auckland.

No team left in the competition has won it before so history is guaranteed to be made on Sunday. The Lionesses already became history makers in July last year when they secured their first-ever European Championship with a 2-1 win over Germany at Wembley.

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