The Matildas just won the quarter final against France. Australia will never be the same.

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To be quite frank, my cup of hope for the future was f**king empty before the Women's World Cup

It was emptied by COVID and further dried out by all the other horrible events I was watching take place across the world. The cost-of-living crisis, increased domestic abuse, women being stripped of their rights and safety in certain places, the seemingly never-ending use of LGBTQIA+ people as political pawns, global warming... As you can tell I was heading towards a pretty nihilistic existence. 

And, may I add, this was all coming from me, a person with certain privileges i.e. I'm a white, cis person - can you imagine the experience of others in minorities? 

It's safe to say that I needed something big to come and knock the overabundance of pessimistic fog from behind my eyes. My mental health was struggling, and I needed something to celebrate almost as much as I needed to breathe in air as I typed this out. Something monumental that would make marching on feel less... pointless. 

Enter, the FIFA Women's World Cup. And then follow up with WINNING THE QUARTER FINAL GAME AGAINST FRANCE!!

No, I am not here to say the Women's World Cup or beating France is going to fix everything bad happening in the world, in fact, we still have a long way to go even in gender equality in football, but perhaps it has given some of us the hope we need to forge ahead. Perhaps this immense representation of women and queer people in the world of sports will trickle down into the other crevices that need this same progress?


So this is what 'community' feels like?

Australia came together as one giant, supportive community on Saturday night to watch the Matildas' quarter-final game against France. The average audience SMASHED previous records with an average audience of 4.17 million across Seven and the 7Plus app, according to preliminary OzTAM figures. This does not include streaming viewers or those watching at venues. 

On a recent Saturday, I went to my street's 'Xmas in July' party and it was a perfect real-life example of the impact the Women's World Cup (in particular, the Matildas) is having across generations.

The street party had people from as young as 18 months old, all the way up to grandparents, and every single person spent a solid amount of time animatedly talking about the Matildas. My partner even gifted one grandparent our spare Matildas beanie and she then wore it with such pride the entire night.

That is but one isolated experience in a never-ending list of many. 

I've never once felt so connected to so many people at the same time like this. We are a country behind a group of women who we love and support; a world behind a group of teams playing for change. And that camaraderie and sense of community is not something most of us get to experience every day.

Watch: The story behind the Matildas mural on the iconic Bondi Beach Sea Wall. Post continues after video.

Video via Football Australia.

My therapist and the Matildas are working hard for my mental health.

Not a heading you'd expect to see but an important one nonetheless because watching the Matildas has been just as beneficial to my mental health as going to frequent therapy - and cheaper.

I sobbed when we won our last game against Denmark. Which, if you've read any of my other articles about the Matildas, is something I do often when it comes to them. Don't worry, they're tears of joy and happiness. 

I did so because I held so much hope, pride and joy in my heart for our team that I could not contain the sheer amount of positive feelings within my physical body.

To be clear, I'm not strange for feeling this way; a large amount of research underpins my overwhelming feelings. Not only is it reported that attending live sporting events can improve wellbeing and feelings of loneliness

New York Times best-selling author, Larry Olmsted, also wrote an entire book called, Fans, which uses a bunch of research to prove that "the more you identify with a sports team, the better your social, psychological, and physical health is."

The "I don't watch sports but I've been watching the Matildas" people are here, and the numbers prove it.

Possibly one of the most heart-warming aspects of watching the Matildas is how they have quietly encouraged people who don't usually "love sport" to get behind a football team. 

And the stats show it.

FIFA reported that an average of 25,476 fans attended the 48 first-round matches, which is a whopping 29 per cent increase than in France in 2019. While across free-to-air television and streaming platform 7plus, there was an average audience of over 4.17 million.


On top of this, the team's world cup jerseys are outselling the Socceroos' world cup jerseys two to one.

Let's face it, sports can be intimidating. I wasn't the sportiest spatula in the kitchen growing up myself and didn't spend my youth watching football with my family, so I had to learn it all independently as an adult. I admit I found it a little bit intimidating at first - particularly when watching the men's teams. But watching the Matildas has bridged that gap for me and so many others in the same boat. 

The tough conversations are here to stay.

I know it's been said one hundred times, but I'll yell this until I am red in the face: The Matildas have been the representation that women in sport, and queer women everywhere, have needed for a long, long time.

I, a queer woman, have never felt like less of an outsider. My partner and I, when watching TV, are for once not the odd ones out. 

Don't get me wrong, there are still copious amounts of keyboard coaches and online trolls tearing the Women's World Cup and its teams down. Just take a look at the backlash against the US team after their recent defeat, or how people think Katrina 'Mini' Gorry is spectacular for not losing her competitiveness after becoming a mother (David Basheer's sentiments, not mine), or the immense backlash against Lauren James after her red card the other night. 

I'm seeing it on my own social pages too. I posted on TikTok about the US vs Sweden game as it ended and was met with furious commentary about the US team being "too woke" and "not deserving equal pay" (which I have since deleted).

@lauraelizabethk My heart literally stopped beating holy shit. #tiktok #fyp #trending #fifawomensworldcup #womensworldcup #fifawwc2023 #usa #sweden ♬ original sound - Laura K 🌈

Despite the nature of these conversations, and the ugly truth that they can reveal, they are important because they show that there are also so many more people awakening on the other side. All you need to do is look at all the little girls telling the TV how special it is to watch the women play football competitively, or the Matildas hugging the Denmark players after their defeat, to see how much good there is. 

And, without these debates and knowing what we're working against, how can we educate and move forward?

Win or lose, the Women's World Cup this year has changed history. And, the Matildas have changed Australia.

More than the games themselves, the Matildas team have humanised sports in a way I haven't seen before. They, and all the teams playing in this World Cup (some who have gotten here against a lot of odds), have shown us vulnerability and strength and are the epitome of why women in sports deserve to be celebrated. 

The FIFA Women's World Cup has given the post-pandemic world a small, addicting taste of hope; one we so desperately needed to keep pushing forward.

Want to know more about the Matildas? Listen to Here If You Need below.

Feature Image: Getty.

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