How they got their name, and 4 other things you need to know about the Matildas.

To catch up on all things Matildas and the 2023 Women's World Cup, check out our hub page here.

The time has finally come folks.

The Matildas are playing their semifinal game against England, and all eyes are on the team. 

Australia is just one of 32 nations competing in this year's Women's World Cup, which will be held over Australia and New Zealand over the next month. 

Over a million people are expected to attend the games, breaking the record set for the 2015 tournament in Canada. 

As the Matilda's get ready to claim victory, here's what you need to know about the team and how you can watch the matches. 

First, let's take a look at the Matildas' backstory.

The Matildas have been on the scene since 1978, when the first-ever Australian women's squad was announced. 

Back then, the team was made up of players from New South Wales and WA and captained by Connie Byrnes, who would go on to win the Miss Football title.

However, they didn't go by the Matildas at the time, and were instead referred to as the female Socceroos.

They also didn't even have their own uniform, kitted out in the same gear as the men, some of it handed down after being used by their male counterparts.

It wasn't until 2019, that the team had a kit designed specifically for them, as part of the Women’s World Cup. 

In 2019, the player's union Professional Footballers Australia struck a collective bargaining agreement with Football Australia to see the Matildas paid the same amount as the Socceroos.


Over the decades, the Matildas have had to fight for the recognition they deserve. 

Former Matildas player Sarah Walsh said awareness of the team started building around the time of the 2007 World Cup. 

"Before the 2007 World Cup, honestly, I'd have conversations and I'd say I'm a Matilda, and people have said no idea what it was," she told Mamamia's podcast, The Quicky. 

"So we built the awareness of the team over there. I was there when we brokered the first contracts and we moved from move from per diem to contracts and we were basically negotiating to get our laundry and Wi-Fi paid for."

"10 years prior to me, they were selling badges on shirts and having to pay to play so I kind of see it as this big continuum. I look at this [year's] team as the change really reshaping sport in Australia through this World Cup."

How did the Matildas get their name?

The story surrounding the origins of the Matildas' name remains somewhat of a mystery.

Former player Sharon Young is believed to have suggested the name in the early 90s after she was inspired by the 1982 Commonwealth Games mascot – a giant kangaroo named Matilda.

Years later, as the team was preparing to qualify for the 1995 Women's World Cup, the CEO of the Australian Women's Soccer Association Peter Hugg, along with head coach Tom Sermanni and administration assistant Sarah Groube sat in a room to discuss the name. 

During their brainstorming session, they realised the kangaroo had a big connection with Australian soccer. 


Matilda also "ticked the box" as it was a woman's name, Young told the ABC.

"It was a key term in our unofficial national anthem [Waltzing Matilda]. There was a Roald Dahl book called 'Matilda' that had just come out as a movie. And if you search the name 'Matilda,' it actually means 'mighty in battle."

SBS and the Australian Women's Soccer Association (AWSA) later decided to hold a public vote to decide on a new name. 

The shortlist included names like Soccertoos, Lorikeets, The Sheila's and Waratahs, but in the end, the Matildas won out.

Listen to The Quicky, Mamamia's daily news podcast. Post continues below. 

Who are the players on the Matildas 2023 Women's World Cup squad? 

Australia's Women's World Cup squad is usually captained by the one and only Sam Kerr, who is making her fourth appearance at the FIFA Women’s World Cup. Though, after a calf injury leaving Sam out of most of the Women's World Cup so far, Steph Catley has been captaining the team.

The 29-year-old Chelsea forward is Australia's greatest ever goalscorer, after breaking football legend Tim Cahill's record last year. 

Australia's 23-player team is also made of Mackenzie Arnold, Clare Polkinghorne, Caitlin Foord, Alex Chidiac and Katrina Gorry, among others.


When have the Matildas played in the Women's World Cup?

The Matildas were placed in Group B for the 2023 Women's World Cup, meaning they took on the Republic of Ireland, Nigeria and Canada in the group stages.

Speaking to Mamamia's women's sports podcast, Here If You Need, former Matilda Amy Duggan had said Australia's opening game against Ireland would be "monumental". 

"It'll be a 'where were you when?' moment, a pinch yourself moment, it'll be amazing," she said. 

"I think if all our players are fit and firing and lined up, you know, we have a squad that can compete and can beat the best teams in the world. So I will be standing right behind them, you know, proudly, as a former Matilda but also a massive fan of this squad."


Following coming first in their Group, the Matildas went on to beat Denmark in the Round of 16. 

How can you watch the Matildas play in the Women's World Cup?

You can watch the games live on Channel Seven or on demand on 7plus.

Optus Sport is also streaming the matches. 

Feature Image:  Robert Cianflone/Getty.

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