'I've never enjoyed watching sport. Then I watched the Matildas play France.'

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"I feel so sporty right now," I texted the group chat on Saturday night, with a photo of me watching the Matildas vs France game.

It was a pathetically proud moment for me. 

I've always wanted to be that person – you know, the cool, chill girl who watches and understands sport – but I'm not. I like TV shows and movies, and I'm okay with that.

Then the 2023 FIFA Women's World Cup began.

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For the past few weeks, you haven't been able to have a conversation without someone bringing up the Matildas.

They are on every news site and in everyone's social media feeds – they are at the centre of the cultural zeitgeist, and rightly so.

And I pretended to know what was going on. I've previously interviewed Katrina Gorry, so that's what I had to contribute to the conversation.

But then it got to a point where it hit me that this is more than just a sports tournament. It's a huge moment in Australian history.

These women are playing for our country, dominating, and people are paying attention.


They are outselling the Socceroos' World Cup jerseys two to one. 

They have more people watching them play than both the AFL and NRL grand finals did.

I wanted to witness that.

Image: Getty.

At 5pm on Saturday, I was in front of my TV and ready. 

My phone was away, I had my nibbles and wine, and I knew the basic rules of soccer, assuming that would be enough to get me through.


Then no one scored in the first half.

Or the second half.

What happens now...?

Towards the end of the second half, some friends – men and women – popped over for drinks while the game played on. It became social. Everyone started chatting while the game continued.

Then we got to the penalty shootout.

After two hours and not a single score on either side, the winner was to be decided by whichever team won more penalty kicks. It went for 17 minutes – the longest shootout in World Cup history (men's or women's).

Mackenzie Arnold started how she intended to go on, saving the opening penalty.

Then Caitlin Foord scored. Followed by Sam Kerr, Mary Fowler, Katrina Gorry, Tameka Yallop and Ellie Carpenter.

Arnold made several more saves. The Matildas had a few more misses.

We were yelling at this point. 

I kept asking if we had won.

Then it was Cortnee Vine's turn. 

The Matildas won 7-6.

Image: Getty.


It's hard to put into words the collective happiness felt in that room following the game. 

It's probably the same feeling felt in so many pubs and households not only that night but often. (I don't watch sport so it's new to me.)

But it was in that moment I got it.

I got why 4.9 million Australians tuned in to watch the Matildas.

I got why people are obsessed with them. I am now too.

Thank you, Matildas, for bringing so much joy to our country – even to people who don't have a sporty bone in their body.

And bring on Wednesday's semi-finals. I'll definitely be watching.

Charlie Begg is Mamamia's Morning Editor and Senior Lifestyle Writer. For more from her, read her articles here and follow her on Instagram.

Feature image: Supplied/Getty.

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