'How queer love was normalised meant a lot to me.' The behind-the-scenes on the biggest era in the Matildas' history.

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I wouldn’t call myself the sportiest person in the world. I like sports, particularly women’s leagues, but I hadn’t, until recently, ever really felt deeply connected to a team in the way some people do. 

You know the people I’m talking about – the ones who cry when their teams lose or who know the personal lives of all their team's players. I’d always been a bit jealous of these people because they got to believe in something special. I wanted to believe in a team in that same way. 

And… now I do. My support for the Matildas has grown into that same feeling I was jealous of. A deep feeling of belonging to something. 

There are a few things that got me to this point. The obvious one is how special of a time it is right now in Australian history. It feels different. The anticipation for the 2023 FIFA Women’s World Cup is building and we all just know that after it ends, we’ll never be the same. 

Having the Cup on home soil is something that solidifies women in football. It says, ‘Women in sports are here to stay, we are equal, and we will Never Say Die.’

But, the thing that brought me over the line, now at the point where I’m basically part of the Matildas' family (self-appointed, but a member all the same), was watching Matildas: The World at Our Feet, the 6-part docuseries on Disney+ that captures the behind-the-scenes of the Matildas during this monumental moment in sporting history. 

I started the series because I wanted to know desperately about the team and the women who are changing our world so drastically. And, I finished it because watching their lives, and their true selves, made me feel so immensely proud and so connected to each and every player. My heart gets that big swelling feeling every time I think about it. 


Here are 4 of the most noteworthy learnings I took away from the series.

Representation matters.

Steph Catley said it best when she said she had no female football role models to look up to growing up. And all of the Matildas' repeat this sentiment throughout the docuseries. They reiterate how important it is for them to show up and play, not just for themselves and for their country, but for all the little girls watching and thinking that maybe they too can be professional footballers – because they finally have role models to look up to, who represent them and who prove that women are equal in sport. 

It’s not just women though, while watching the docuseries our queer community and our Indigenous community were both heavily featured.


As a gay woman myself, I can comment on how this queer representation made me feel. And let’s just say I jumped and screamed as soon as Sam Kerr and partner Kristie Mewis hit my screen in episode one. 

My partner and I get oddly excited whenever we see another queer female couple, so I immediately messaged her to let her know I was watching a very cute and loved-up Sam and Kristie on TV. It seems like something small but the way queer love was normalised in the series meant a lot to me.

Special mention to when Emily Gielnik proposed to her long-term girlfriend, Temica, after talking about how she found it really difficult to come out for a long time because of her heritage, but found strength and love through her team and her partner. I cried a lot watching this part of the show play out (crying in happiness and love seems to be a common thing for me while watching.)


Family is as important as the player.

This is an overarching theme throughout Matildas: The World at Our Feet that I didn’t completely expect. 

The way they all treat each other as family; how each player’s family is welcomed by the rest of the team. It brought real-life tears to my eyes. It shows just how integral family is to the Matildas' success. 

When Katrina ‘Mini’ Gorry spoke about having her baby as a single mum through IVF, then coming back to the game bringing her beautiful girl, Harper, with her – I just about sobbed (heaved, more like it). Rather than being punished for creating a family and being a mum, Mini was celebrated by the team and Harper was welcomed into the camp as if she was a player herself. Mini and the Head Coach, Tony Gustavsson, both say in the series how this makes Mini a better player overall. 


Side note: Tony Gustavsson seems like the kindest, most nurturing person ever and can he be my coach too please? 

And, did you know, during mealtime at the Matildas training camp, the team and their families are in the meal room and have a ‘no phones at dinner’ rule so they can connect with each other and their families? It’s beautiful and I could go on for days with examples of how much of a supportive family this team is to each other. (In all honesty, if it were up to me, I’d talk endlessly about every single bit from the docuseries but then I would give too much away!)


Caring about equality. 

Sometimes it may seem that we are close to being equal, but only recently, Robbie Slater said publicly that Sam Kerr’s record for the most goals scored by an Aussie is ‘not equal’ to the male footballer, Tim Cahill’s record. This was published on the front page of the news. We see Sam react to this in the docuseries, and instead of getting upset just for herself, she said, “imagine a little girl reading that”. 


This is just one example, Sam and the rest of the team all persevere through the challenges and comments like this to fight for equality for all women. That’s why supporting them actually supports more than just the players themselves.

Inspiring determination.

I can’t explain to you how inspiring Matildas: The World at Our Feet is in showing us these women jump through every single hoop imaginable to be the best they can be for themselves, their families and for us. 

Learning how much they put their bodies through, the immense jet lag from flying between countries so regularly, the injuries – it’s something you don’t see while they’re out there on the field playing. The lead up to each game takes determination and grit. 

Ellie Carpenter, who is from the small town of Cowra, left school in Year 9 to play professional football and has kept on going with such determination since. 

In the docuseries you see when she injures her ACL playing for Lyon during the Women’s Championship League finals, and the absolute soul-destroying realisation that this could impact her ability to play during the World Cup. Yet, she didn’t succumb to the fear, curl up into a ball and give up (like I would), she kept going, focusing on her recovery and pushing through the emotions. 


I haven’t even touched on half of what you see behind-the-scenes in this series, or the depth of what the players have gone through to be here on the edge of this historical moment. But, I don’t need to. The love for the team from so many people is enough to show anyone what kind of people they are. And, Matildas: The World at Our Feet confirms the rest. 

Go watch it before the World Cup begins!

Watch Matildas: The World at Our Feet now streaming on Disney+.

Feature Image: Instagram/@kmewis19/@katrinagorry10

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