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David Warner likely to play for Australia against India in SCG Test, Will Pucovski a candidate to join him at opener


An independent neurologist has given Will Pucovski the green light to play at the SCG; now Australia’s selectors must decide whether the would-be debutant is ready to partner David Warner in the high-stakes Test.

Justin Langer has all but confirmed Warner will return from his groin strain on Thursday after spending almost six weeks on the sidelines.

Warner recently admitted he is unlikely to be 100 per cent fit for the third Test, which comes with the series level at 1-1 after India’s shock win at the MCG.

Langer suggested the veteran opener is “very, very, very likely to play”, adding there was no risk “of him re-injuring himself”.

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The more challenging conundrum confronting Australia’s coach is whether Pucovski or Matthew Wade should partner Warner at the top of the order.

Pucovski and Warner shared a net on Tuesday, adding weight to the theory they will open together in Sydney.

The call to potentially promote Pucovski — who was unavailable for the first and second Tests because of the latest in a series of concussions — at the expense of Travis Head is complicated by several factors.

“Will saw an independent neurologist yesterday,” Langer told reporters on Tuesday.

“He’s seen a couple now.

“The real heartening thing for him is that while he’s had a few concussions in the past … it’s not necessarily going to have any long-term impact on him.

“All the concussion protocols … have been passed. He’s been cleared and that would be very heartening for him, his family.

Two Australian cricketers jog together on the SCG during a team session ahead of a Test match.
Australia’s top-order has struggled in the India Test series, and David Warner and Will Pucovski could be the answer.(AAP: Dan Himbrechts)

Pucovski, who was on the cusp of a Test debut during the past two home summers but ruled himself out of contention and took a mental health break, only returned to the nets in Melbourne.

Langer noted the 22-year-old prodigy, who posted double-tons in consecutive Sheffield Shield games prior to his untimely bouncer blow in a tour game, was in a “great frame of mind” as he prepared for a short-pitched assault.

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Pucovski had no issues whenever confronted with a bouncer during Australia’s main training session before the third Test.

“He’s incredibly positive about playing cricket. He’s trained hard this week and, as he and I have discussed, the only way to get back on the horse is to get back on the horse,” the former Test opener said.

Warner will replace axed opener Joe Burns in the XI.

Head, who is averaging 20.66 in this series, looms as the batsman likely to make way if Pucovski is presented with a baggy green.

“Heady is a good player. Averaging 40 in Test cricket. He’s a really aggressive player in the middle overs,” Langer said.

AAP



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Local News - Victoria

Student focus reaps rewards as rebel schools join ’30 club’


“VCE is just one pathway within our school,” Mr Ellis said.

“Some students told us that was the pathway they wanted, so we put in a few more programs for those students heading down a scored VCE pathway.

“We’re not an ATAR factory, but for those students it’s very real, and we have structures in place to support them to achieve well,” he said.

A median study score of 30 is the marker of an academically solid school, and Mr Ellis said Templestowe’s 140 year-12-equivalent students had worked for five or six years to reach it.

The college also offers VCAL and non-ATAR study options, including a partnership with Swinburne University.

He said the approach had helped the school community get through the disruption of the coronavirus pandemic.

“This is what the school has prepared students for, we haven’t prepared them solely for exams, we’ve prepared them to cope with what the world throws at them.”

Mount Alexander College’s entry into the “30 club” caps off a remarkable five-year turnaround for the school.

In 2016, the government school in Flemington was at a low ebb. Its VCE results were well below the state average and just 37 children were enrolled in year 7.

The school had lost the confidence of many parents in its diverse and gentrifying catchment.

Mount Alexander College has had a dramatic turnaround in the past five years.

Mount Alexander College has had a dramatic turnaround in the past five years.Credit:Jason South

The school swapped conventional year levels between years 7 and 10 for what it calls a “vertical curriculum” based on students’ interests and ability and gave them more freedom to choose the subjects they were most into.

In 2020, a year 8 boy who is exceptionally gifted at maths took VCE units one and two in maths methods.

“It’s just meant that kids have a greater voice in their learning and as a result they are more engaged, and we have seen an enormous shift in attendance,” principal Dani Angelico said.

The college’s median study score rose to 31 in 2020 from 27 last year.

Its enrolments are also soaring: the school awaits the arrival of 140 year 7 students next month, and received a $24.77 million capital works grant in last year’s state budget to meet growing demand.

Ms Angelico said the school’s punt on an unconventional approach to schooling had paid off, as a diverse mix of students from public housing towers and multimillion-dollar homes enrolled in growing numbers.

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“It’s a very diverse cohort: we’ve absolutely got a tale of disadvantage there that we will always have, but certainly we have students who come from very well educated, wealthy families that come to us now,” she said.

“And they are parents who would have [previously] probably sent their kids not to us, but to independent schools.”

Two other schools joined the “30 club” this year: the Islamic College of Melbourne, a co-educational prep-year 12 school in Tarneit. Its VCE results have improved sharply in the past three years, leaping to 30 from a median of 26 in 2018.

Haileybury Rendall School, a new Darwin campus for the independent school, had a median score of 32, up from 28 in 2019.

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Wallabies call up Melbourne Storm NRL premiership winner Suliasi Vunivalu to join training squad


Suliasi Vunivalu will join the Wallabies at their training camp in the New South Wales Hunter Valley on Wednesday, only weeks after helping the Melbourne Storm win the NRL grand final.

Vunivalu, who signed a two-year contract with Rugby Australia and Queensland last December, is not expected to be considered for selection for the Wallabies’ two upcoming Tri Nations Tests against Argentina.

Instead, the 24-year-old has been invited to join Dave Rennie’s extended Wallabies’ training squad as part of his transition from rugby league to the 15-player code.

Vunivalu played a key role in the Storm’s grand final win over Penrith late last month, scoring a runaway try in the 26-20 triumph at the Olympic stadium.

It was Vunivalu’s second premiership with the Storm, as he was also a member of their victorious squad in 2017.

His former Storm teammate Marika Koroibete, who starred for the Wallabies in last Saturday night’s 24-22 win over the All Blacks in Brisbane, trod the same path when he switched codes following the 2016 NRL season.

A Wallabies player uses his right hand to palm off an All Blacks opponent while holding the ball with his left hand.
Marika Koroibete (right) has proven himself at the Test level for the Wallabies.(AAP: Darren England)

Koroibete joined the Wallabies in Europe on their spring tour later that year, although he did not make his Test debut until September 2017. He has since established himself as one of the side’s top performers.

He has played 32 Tests for the Wallabies and was awarded the John Eales Medal last year.

Vunivalu, who along with Korobiete was born in Fiji, played rugby union as a teenager and attended Auckland’s Saint Kentigern College, which produced All Blacks Joe Rokocoko and Jerome Kaino.

Melbourne Storm's Suliasi Vunivali breaks away from the Penrith Panthers in the NRL grand final.
Vunivalu crossed for a brilliant try in the Storm’s NRL grand final win.(AAP: Dean Lewins)

He was spotted by the Storm and lured to Melbourne as an 18-year-old, and in his debut season in 2016 was the NRL’s top try scorer.

The Wallabies have already blooded two wingers during the recent Bledisloe Cup Tests.

Tom Wright scored with his first touch against the All Blacks last Saturday night, while Vunivalu’s new Reds teammate Filipo Daugunu has also impressed since making his Test debut in Wellington last month.

The Wallabies’ next match is against the Pumas in Newcastle on November 21, before they play each other again at Western Sydney Stadium on December 5 to wrap up the Tri Nations.

AAP/ABC



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Joe Daniher to leave Essendon to join Brisbane Lions ahead of 2021 AFL season


Joe Daniher will leave Essendon to join Brisbane after the Bombers chose not to match the Lions’ offer for the key forward.

The Bombers will receive a first-round draft selection as compensation, with the Lions currently holding pick seven.

Brisbane submitted its offer for restricted free agent Daniher late on Friday afternoon.

The Bombers had three days to decide whether they would match it and force a trade, however they decided not to stand in Daniher’s way, given what they are set to receive in return.

Daniher informed the Bombers earlier this month he wanted to leave the club, with the Lions his preferred destination.

Earlier on Friday, Hawthorn triple-premiership winger Isaac Smith departed the Hawks to join grand finalist Geelong as an unrestricted free agent on a two-year deal.

The Hawks confirmed Smith, 31, would depart after 210 senior matches with the club, a stint that included playing a crucial role in the 2013, 2014 and 2015 premierships.

Hawthorn was keen to keep Smith, while Melbourne was also in the race for his services before Geelong won out.

“It’s been a very difficult decision, incredibly hard and [I] probably had a few sleepless nights over the last three or four nights to be honest,” Smith said.

“The heart was certainly pulling me towards Hawthorn but in the end the head won and I’m up for a new challenge, a new journey and I’m very excited to be part of the Geelong Football Club.”

Isaac Smith celebrates a goal for the Hawks
Isaac Smith will no longer be wearing the brown and gold of Hawthorn.(AAP: Julian Smith)

Hawthorn and Geelong enjoyed a fierce rivalry for much of Smith’s time at the Hawks.

“Certainly coming up against them, there was a real dislike between the playing groups and the clubs, but the other thing was, there was a hell a lot of respect,” he said.

Smith infamously missed a set shot after the siren in a two-point loss to the Cats in the 2016 qualifying final, while he went wide with another seconds before the final siren in a three-point loss the following season.

“I guess I’ve already won them two games of footy, so I’m guessing the Cats fans will be happy,” Smith joked.

Greater Western Sydney’s Williams is one step closer to joining Carlton, with the Blues lodging paperwork for the restricted free agent with the AFL on Friday.

Williams, 26, expressed his desire to join the Blues in September after 113 matches for GWS.

The free agency window opened on Friday morning, with Gold Coast kicking off proceedings by lodging a contract offer to Adelaide’s Rory Atkins.

As an unrestricted free agent, Atkins can join the Suns immediately, with the AFL confirming the Crows will receive an end-of-second-round draft pick as compensation.

Atkins played 101 matches for Adelaide, including the 2017 grand final loss, but made just four AFL appearances this season.

AAP/ABC



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Joe Daniher tells Essendon he wants to join Brisbane Lions to continue AFL career



Key forward Joe Daniher has told Essendon he wants to leave the club to join the Brisbane Lions from next season.

Essendon list manager Adrian Dodoro said Daniher wanted to live a quieter life away from Victoria.

“We put forward a contract offer to Joe, but he has expressed his strong desire to live away from Melbourne,” Dodoro said in a club statement.

“We understand that free agency is part of our industry and he has a right to explore his options.”

The Lions released a statement saying they were “excited” Daniher had nominated the club as “his preferred new home”.

“The club will work its way through the process of free agency with the AFL during the free agency trade period,” a Lions statement said.

“As a club our number one priority at the moment is our finals campaign and focusing on our preparation toward this.”

It is the second year in a row that the injury plagued Daniher has requested a move away from the Bombers.

Daniher was set on joining Sydney last off-season, but the Bombers and Swans could not agree on a suitable trade.

The 26-year-old is a restricted free agent this year, so Essendon could choose to match any deal the Lions offer.

Daniher has been limited to 15 matches across the last three seasons after battling a range of injury problems.

In his most recent injury-free campaign — in 2017 — he kicked 65 goals and was named in the All-Australian side.

He also won Essendon’s best-and-fairest in the same season.

Daniher has kicked 191 goals in 108 matches for the Bombers since making his senior debut in 2013.

The Bombers’ confirmation of Daniher’s desire to leave the club comes a day after the club announced defender Adam Saad wanted to join Carlton.

AAP/ABC



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St Kilda’s Jake Carlisle ends his season, leaving hub to join his partner ahead of the birth of their child


St Kilda defender Jake Carlisle will not play any further part in the Saints’ AFL finals campaign after leaving Queensland ahead of the birth of his child.

The Saints on Monday confirmed the 29-year-old had departed the team’s Noosa hub to be with his partner Mel, with the couple imminently expecting their third child.

Carlisle said he was shattered to not be hanging around as St Kilda looks to build on their first finals win since 2010, a three-point victory over the Western Bulldogs.

“I’m devastated to leave the guys, but it’s going to be a great opportunity for other guys to step up, and to be successful you need more than 22 players,” he said.

“You do everything for family and part of the emotions (after the win) was knowing it was my last game for this year.

St Kilda chief operating officer Simon Lethlean said he was grateful to Carlisle for staying as long as he did and the club supported his decision.

While expected, Carlisle’s absence is a further blow to St Kilda as they prepare for their semi-final clash with reigning premiers Richmond at Carrara on Friday night.

A St Kilda AFl player puts his right hand on the left side of his chest in an elimination final against Western Bulldogs.
Paddy Ryder was injured late in the Saints’ win over the Bulldogs.(AAP: Dave Hunt)

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Veteran ruckman Paddy Ryder has been ruled out for the rest of the season after tearing his hamstring in the dying stages of Saturday’s thrilling three-point elimination final win against the Western Bulldogs.

Ryder starred in the first finals victory of his 257-game career.

The 32-year-old faces a lengthy rehab stint as he requires surgery on the hamstring tendon injury.

“A little bit flat with the injury but it’s been an awesome year,” Ryder said.

“Just looking forward to seeing the boys go out and hopefully get another win this week and march on from there.

Defender Ben Long could also miss the game against the Tigers after being slapped with a one-match ban for rough conduct.

Long crunched Bulldogs midfielder Jack Macrae with a high bump.

AAP



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David Fifita to leave Brisbane Broncos, will join Gold Coast Titans in 2021 NRL season


David Fifita will leave the Broncos at the end of the season, signing a multi-million-dollar deal to join the Gold Coast Titans.

Reports have Fifita signing a three-year deal worth $3.5 million to head down the M1, the biggest deal in the club’s history.

“It’s a great signing for the club,” Mal Meninga said on Fox Sports.

“For us, it’s a huge kick … it’s only the start of what we’re trying to achieve.”

The Brisbane Broncos released a statement confirming the news, with CEO Paul White saying the club had more than 20 meetings to “try to find a way to keep David at the Broncos”.

“At the same time, we wanted to ensure we did not go beyond what was responsible for the good of the club and playing list as a whole.

“At the end of the day, it was a really tough decision for a young man to make and we respect the choice that David has made.

David Fifita looks to offload for the Queensland Maroons during a tackle by the NSW Blues' Cameron Murray in State of Origin I.
David Fifita played three matches in last year’s State of Origin.(AAP: Darren England)

“It’s disappointing to see David depart but we look forward to him returning to the field to finish out the season with the Broncos.

The highly rated 20-year-old prop has been subject to mounting speculation over his future for weeks, but told his Broncos teammates this would be his last season at the club after Friday’s heavy defeat against the Storm.

Fifita has not played for the Broncos since the league shut down after round two, during which the Brisbane club has endured a horror run of form, losing eight of nine matches since the restart.

The mood around the Broncos’ Red Hill training ground has been sombre enough since the restart, with questions over Anthony Seibold’s coaching style dominating amidst the NRL heavyweight club’s terrible form.

Losing one of the club’s brightest young stars to their local rivals will not help matters.

The Broncos’ embattled head coach refused to answer questions about Fifita’s future after Friday night’s defeat.

“I’m not here to talk about that, ” he said. “I want to talk about the game tonight.”

Having starred in the Broncos’ 2-0 start to the season, including a 70-metre solo try in the round-one win over North Queensland, the State of Origin representative had knee surgery a month before games resumed on May 28.

‘Crazy’ money for Fifita

Brisbane Broncos star David Fifita.
David Fifita will link up with the Titans at the end of this season.(AAP: Craig Goulding)

On ABC Grandstand earlier this month, NRL expert commentator Luke Lewis said a club would be “crazy” to part with as much as $1.25 million per year for Fifita.

“I think it’s absolutely crazy. You can probably buy two back rowers for half that price and still be able to go and buy a young raw talent coming through.

Lewis’s argument centred around the fact that, as a back rower, he is unlikely to be able to influence a game in the same way that a player playing in a play-making position would be able to.

“On average, a back rower touches the ball around 12 times a game.

“If you’re going to spend all that money you want … [a player who is] touching the ball all the time, who knows where to go, how the game’s got to be managed … they are your million-dollar players.

“David Fifita is a guy you’re going to give the ball, he’ll come up with some great carries, come up with some great defence … but you’re not going to give him the ball in a clutch moment to kick a field goal.”

Lewis added the speculation put Fifita in a very difficult position.

“It’s not David Fifita’s fault he’s getting that offer,” Lewis said. “You’re only worth what someone is willing to pay.”



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Local News - Victoria

Pandemic tipped to blow $21b hole in state’s economy, another 53,000 Victorians set to join dole queue


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The modelling is an update on the predictions released in April, which assumed six months of uninterrupted stage three lockdowns, and shows gross state product, a measure of economic activity, could fall by 5.25 per cent – or $21 billion – this calendar year.

The state’s unemployment rate has grown from 5.3 per cent in January, when there were 195,000 Victorians looking for work, to 7.5 per cent in June with 265,000 unemployed, and is now tipped to grow to 9 per cent, or 318,000 people without jobs, by the end of September.

The Treasurer’s office said the new modelling had taken into account the federal government’s decision to continue with a modified version of its JobKeeper wage subsidy scheme past the original scheduled end date of late September.

The state’s deficit for the first three quarters of the 2019-20 financial year was $773 million, with the full-year result – expected to be very much worse – to be revealed by the government in Thursday’s update.

In an effort to put Victoria’s problems in a global perspective, Mr Pallas pointed to forecasts from the International Monetary Fund and the Organisation for Economic Co-Operation and Development of a damaging recession shrinking worldwide economic output by 7.6 per cent.

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The state government was spending an extra $1 billion a week battling the pandemic during its first surge in March and has arranged a $24.5 billion line of credit to fund future spending with no end to the crisis in sight.

The Treasurer said the government had pumped almost $7 billion into the economy in support to businesses and households in an effort to stave off the worst of the pandemic’s economic impact.

“The coronavirus pandemic is one of the biggest economic challenges our state and our country has ever faced – and we’re doing everything we can to support the tens of thousands of Victorian businesses, workers and families doing it tough,” Mr Pallas said.

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Serena Williams and her daughter join Natalie Portman in ownership of women’s football team


A new women’s football team is coming to Los Angeles, and it will have some pretty big names running the show from the top.

The National Women’s Soccer League has confirmed the tentatively-named Angel City will begin competing in the national competition from 2022 after a “majority woman-founded group” secured the exclusive rights to bring a franchise to LA.

That group contains tennis star Serena Williams — and her two-year-old daughter Olympia — actors Natalie Portman, Jessica Chastain, Jennifer Garner and Eva Longoria, tech entrepreneurs Julie Uhrman and Alexis Ohanain and a number of current and former US women’s team players.

“Today we take an exciting step by announcing the first women majority-owned and led ownership group,” Portman said.

“I am thrilled by the opportunity to partner with this incredible group of people to bring a professional women’s soccer team to Los Angeles.

“Together, we aim to build not only a winning team on the field, but also to develop a passionately loyal fan base.

“Sports are such a joyful way to bring people together, and this has the power to make tangible change for female athletes both in our community and in the professional sphere.”

Serena Williams and baby
Serena Williams and her daughter Olympia in 2018.(Instagram: Serena Williams)

Speaking to AP, Portman said she heard Abby Wambach, a former US national team player, speak at a Time’s Up event and started thinking about how female athletes are regarded in society.

Then she and venture capitalist Kara Nortman met Becca Roux, the executive director of the US Women’s National Team Players Association.

“We started going to games and we just got so into it. And it was just kind of a revolution to see my son and his friends, these little eight-year-old boys at the time, wanting to wear their Rapinoe jerseys, and Alex Morgan jerseys,” Portman said.

“I was like ‘wow, this would be a different world’. It wasn’t unusual to them at all.”

Actress Natalie Portman is seen posing for a photo at a premiere of her film 'Annihilation', wearing a black dress.
Natalie Portman says she hopes the team can produce role models for young girls and boys.(AP: Jordan Strauss)

There were hints that the group was coming together last year when Portman, Garner, Longoria and other celebrities went to a national team exhibition game at LAFC’s stadium before the World Cup.

The women also reached out to a local supporters group that has been campaigning to bring a team to Los Angeles. The plan is to bring on additional investors as the team takes shape.

“I think it’s so important to have role models and heroes that are women for kids — both boys and girls — to see,” Portman said.

“It’s just such an incredible sport in that it really is a team sport. You see one woman’s success and all the others are cheering her on because one woman’s success is the whole team’s success.”

ABC/AP



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Women’s World Cup 2023 hosting will see Matildas joyfully join the mainstream


Australia’s newest footballing superstar is something of a link between the old and the new of women’s football.

Ellie Carpenter is only 20 but she’s already been a top-level footballer for six years and a Matilda for five. And the kid from Cowra just signed with the best team in the world, Olympique Lyonnais.

Her memories of going to watch her first Matildas game as a little girl are, frankly, not that distant.

She recalls seeing the Australian team in Parramatta as an eight-year-old and thinking: “I want to be part of that one day.”

Now very much a part of the national team setup with 31 appearances to her name, the classy right-back will very likely be in the thick of things when Australia and New Zealand host the Women’s World Cup in three years’ time.

The trans-Tasman bid successfully saw off its only challenger, Colombia, and outlasted strong bids from Japan and Brazil, to the elation of the Australian football community, especially those involved in the women’s game.

Fiona Crawford, the co-author of the book Never Say Die: The Hundred-Year Overnight Success of Australian Women’s Football, says co-hosting the World Cup was the next obvious step in the trajectory of the Matildas.

“They’ve made some incredible gains on and off the pitch in recent years. Hosting the Women’s World Cup cements and extends those,” she said.

“Two of the most common themes that emerged during the book interviews were that the current and former Matildas were invariably the only girls in the boys’ teams and that they often did not know you could pursue a career as a female footballer and/or play for the national team.

“The Matildas’ most senior players are, hopefully, the last to remember what it’s like to carve out a football career without pay above the poverty line, clearly defined pathways or female football heroes to emulate.

“So the [Clare] Polkinghornes, [Lisa] De Vannas and the Meeks [Tameka Yallop] and KKs [Elise Kellond-Knight] who were the only girls on the boys’ teams.

“And they’re playing alongside the first generation of players who are starting to benefit from the inroads previous generations have made.

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‘A historical day for Australian football’, FFA CEO celebrates successful bid

“I think that demonstrates the changing landscape and the growth, and it’s a really interesting intersection of female footballing experiences.”

Carpenter’s face already appears on shampoo bottles and her Matildas teammate, Chelsea signing and Young Australian of the Year Sam Kerr is a bona fide celebrity, but she believes hosting this tournament will further move women’s football into the mainstream.

“Just imagine what a World Cup will do, with young girls and boys being inspired by us,” Carpenter told the ABC.

“I think it will boost Australia in football so much. I feel like it will change the sport forever and inspire so many kids to play the game.”

‘Unsafe, immodest’: The obstacles overcome have made this achievement even sweeter

A number of Matildas players embrace and smile in celebration.
Until recently, female footballers essentially had to pay to play. Now many of them are becoming household names.(AAP: James Elsby)

In Australia, women’s football has overcome myriad obstacles, says Crawford.

“They included suggestions that playing football was medically unsafe or immodest, which saw a concerted push to get women to play more ‘feminine’ sports such as netball, vigoro, or hockey instead.

“They’ve included a lack of access to quality training facilities, kits, injury prevention and rehabilitation, wages, or coaching.

“In 2014, Katrina Gorry flew back from being feted at a black-tie ceremony where she was named the best female footballer in Asia to work shifts at a local cafe.

“Her circumstances showed you could literally be the best female player in Asia and still not earn enough to cover your expenses.”

Crawford says that until recently, female footballers essentially had to pay to play, including covering their own medical insurance, which has also meant they’ve had to juggle work commitments and rehab among training commitments.

“We’ve expected professional footballer commitment and results while paying an amateur wage.”

On-field improvement hugely important in bid success, but Matildas aiming even higher

An Australian Matildas player dribbling the ball against Thailand.
Ellie Carpenter will be 23 when the World Cup takes place.(AAP: Mark Nolan)

Carpenter says the ever-growing reputation and improving performances of the seventh-ranked Matildas on the pitch made the bid even more viable, but hosting the World Cup could see them achieve something even greater.

“At major tournaments we have shown what we’re capable of but we haven’t quite played to our potential I don’t think, bowing out a few times with penalties, but in 2023 we’ll have a long preparation and be at our peak as a team.

Crawford agrees that all the elements have come together nicely for the team.

“I think it was the right application at the right time. The Matildas’ on-pitch success combined with a realistic, appropriately costed, commercially viable application was key; Asia being a growing football market and Australia being a safe, tourism-friendly, sport-oriented place would have helped too.

“And with the pandemic, seemingly insurmountable issues such as Australia’s and New Zealand’s geographic isolation are suddenly looking a lot more like perks. Who’d have thought?

“As corny as it might sound, I’ll be just stoked for the Matildas to be competitive and for people to get a chance to appreciate the women’s game — for women’s participation in football to be normalised and celebrated, and for the next generation of players to be able to see what’s possible.

“10,000 people turned up to the first documented women’s game in Australia in 1920. Around 17,000 people turned up to a sold-out Matildas match in 2017. More than a billion people tuned in to watch the 2019 Women’s World Cup final. So the game’s growing.

“I’m really, really looking forward to Australia and New Zealand falling in love with the women’s game.”

Carpenter, at the dawn of what could be a glittering European club career, says the looming home World Cup can’t be her main focus for now, but the excitement is already bubbling.

“We’re going to get the chance to show the football community around the world what our country is and how beautiful it is,” she said.

“The tournament brings the whole world to the country so having everyone come here and being broadcast all over the world, that just brings so much attention to us as the Matildas, opening up all sorts of opportunities.

“It’s definitely a case of now just wanting 2023 to hurry up and get here.”



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