Luke Hickey: Good evening. What is the Matilda Effect? Is it over 11 million people tuning in to watch a single Sporting event? Is it the historic success for a football team in a home World Cup? Maybe it's all of these things and more. And tonight, we will find out.
Good evening, everyone. A very warm welcome to you on this chilly Canberra night to the National Library of Australia and to this book event. My name is Luke Hickey. I'm the Assistant Director General of the Engagement Branch here at the Library.
As we begin, I would like to acknowledge Australia's First Nations peoples, the first Australians as the traditional owners and the custodians of this land. I give my respects to their elders past and present and through them to all Australian Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. Thank you for attending this event, either in person or online to our online audience. Coming to you from the National Library Building here on beautiful Ngunnawal and Ngambri country.
Alongside the recent Matildas phenomenon, hopefully a watershed moment in Australian sport. We are hosting this event as part of the program of events, supporting "Grit & Gold: Tales from a Sporting Nation." Plug for our exhibition book upstairs. You might wonder what the connection between a library and sport actually is, but our exhibition uses a rich collection of books, magazines, paintings, drawings, photographs, and memorabilia to celebrate Australia's rich sporting history and its effect on our culture over the years. Grit & Gold is on show at the National Library until the 5th of November. And we hope you'll take the time to have a wander through the exhibition following tonight's event.
With us tonight are our guests, Fiona Crawford first, who is a writer, an editor, and a researcher whose work spans social and environmental issues, the arts and football. Her writing has appeared in the Sydney Morning Herald, The Big Issue, and The Conversation among many others. Fiona is an adjunct lecturer at the Queensland University of Technology's Centre for Justice. And in 2019, she co-authored "Never Say Die: The Hundred-Year Overnight Success of Australian Women's Football." "The Matilda Effect" was released in May this year and is published by the Melbourne University Publishing on display in front of Fiona and Grace there.
Joining Fiona in conversation is a face that's become much more familiar to many of us in recent weeks, Grace Gill. Grace is an accomplished Australian footballer and commentator. She has played for Canberra United in the Australian W-League for Slovako in the Czech Women's First League and has represented Australia as part of the Matildas national team. Real privilege to have one of our Matildas alumni here tonight. If you were one of the record number of people tuning into the FIFA World Cup Women's World Cup over the past several weeks, you will have heard Grace's excellent and expert commentary as part of Channel Seven's coverage. Please join me in welcoming Fiona and Grace to discuss "The Matilda Effect."
Grace Gill: Oh, thank you so much, Luke. And thank you, everyone, for being here tonight. And I too would like to acknowledge the traditional custodians of the land in which we are meeting this evening, the Ngunnawal and Ngambri people. It's wonderful to be here. And Fiona, it's wonderful to be alongside you and welcome and congratulations.
Fiona Crawford: Thank you. You too. I feel like I'm in quite esteemed company, particularly after you commentated the most... What is it? The most watched match or broadcast in Australian recorded history. So yeah, what a time to be alive.
Grace Gill: Oh, thank you. That's very kind. We are here to talk about this marvellous book, "The Matilda Effect." I wanna start at the top. I wanna start with the title of the book because I found this fascinating. It seems the obvious book choice title, "The Matilda, Effect," but there's a bit more behind this title. Can you share?
Fiona Crawford: There is a lot, actually. So I originally had another title that I wasn't very happy with when I pitched it to the publisher. I won't even tell you what the title is 'cause I just wasn't happy with it. But I thought the marketing team will help me figure that out. But while I was writing it, I was still sort of churning it over my mind. And eventually, I thought about the effect that the Matildas had had on the landscape, particularly because they play the world game. So when something shifts with the Matildas in the world game, it actually has implications for all women and all women's sports. And so I literally put in the search terms ‘Matilda effect’. And as I did that, I went, "That's actually the title." But once I hit return, I was a little bit disappointed because I discovered there was already a thing called "The Matilda Effect." And I thought, "Oh no, I can't use this. It's already been done." And then I realised it actually was a scientific principle, which I'd never heard of because I have a creative industries and sport background. Yeah, it turns out there's a thing in science, which I know has been in the news this week as well, but of women scientists' contributions being overlooked or misappropriated or misattributed, sorry, to the nearest male, which is actually quite relevant to many women and many industries, including women's football. So I thought this is actually the title and this is really relevant to the book. So it changed the opening and it went from there. And I've heard everyone using The Matilda Effect throughout the tournament. And I think, yeah, I hit on something really fortunate, that's for sure.
Grace Gill: Yeah, incredible. I wasn't aware of that scientific background of the names. So by pure coincidence, really, that this existed long before the Matildas the team existed and is now the title of your book. I am intrigued about what the original title.
Fiona Crawford: Oh, it wasn't good. It wasn't good. No, no.
Grace Gill: All right, we might come back to that one later.
Fiona Crawford: I have to say that "The Matilda Effect" is also apparently in the Australian curriculum. So it does give me hope that students coming through from grade nine onwards will actually know what I didn't know.
Grace Gill: So if we do cast our minds back a few years ago, what actually made you want to write the book? What led you to begin the journey of "The Matilda Effect"?
Fiona Crawford: I never got to play football growing up, so you would've met me probably about 2010. I had discovered women's football in 2007 when SBS first showed the World Cup. And that was the first time I'd seen the National Women's Football team. And I actually went, "Wow, these people are remarkable." And started just trying to find out a little bit more about them and there was no information available. So I started interviewing them and writing about them because I do have a background in that area. And the more I found, the more I wanted to know and the more I realised that, "Hey, there's really a story here."
And I think with women's football, there's this really fascinating intersection of not just sport, but politics, and gender equality, and human rights issues. And you have these people who are operating in this space who have to be, I think, quite remarkable because you don't have any kind of funding or resources and you're up against it. There's no one really not... I don't wanna quote Johnny Infantino, but you're having to choose the right battles and push open doors that apparently are open for you. But it's a tricky space to be operating in. So to succeed in that arena, I think you've actually gotta be quite extraordinary. And you've also gotta have, I think, quite a wicked sense of humour because most of the people I encountered, and you'll see it in the book, they tell really fantastic, witty stories because I think that's been their coping mechanism sometimes when things have been quite tough.
Grace Gill: Mm, definitely. And I guess there's a thought to, well, I wanna start writing this book, but how did you actually go about beginning? Was it the process of reaching out to a lot of people? As we saw throughout the book, you spoke to an incredible number of people who were so well involved in the sport and have been for a long time. But when did you really put pen to paper and begin the process?
Fiona Crawford: I think the answer is, I've probably been writing it for years in small fragments and much of the history that I knew was because I was there or was part of it behind the scenes, working on the social media. So things like the Snoop Dogg, I was there in the lobby with the team. I was there when Heather Garriock stopped security. She's tiny. I don't know if you've ever seen Heather go in person, but she's not a big human, but she's fierce in the best possible way. So she stopped these big burly security guards and said, "No, the team wants a photo with Snoop Dogg." So it's moments like that I was there and I witnessed firsthand, but I also knew there were these amazing stories that I'd heard fragments of, or I didn't know at all and wanted to understand how all those pieces of the puzzle fit together.
So, I wanted to write it to understand it in a lot of ways because that's in beats through writing that I actually started to understand things. And I wanted to understand how the Matildas got to the point that they are now. I think looking at this team over this last month, you would think they've always had these resources or they've always had this success, or it feels a little bit like overnight success, but I'm really fascinated by all those elements of how it all fits together and all those small moments that actually turned out to be quite big foundations that they could be on to hear.
So I started writing it on my phone, jotting down notes, lots and lots of fragments. I have real envy for writers who are able to structure books. I'm not that writer. It's painful, it's messy, it's a big process. And I knew elements of what I wanted to write and then we'd sort of reach out to people. I mean, you know, yourself, I'm one of those, I send you an email, saying, "Hi, Grace. Me again, just wondering if you would mind answering a few questions. And I don't know what you think of some of those emails where you go, "I don't know what this is for, but I'll go along with it."
Grace Gill: Trust in the process.
Fiona Crawford: Yeah, trust in the process. And the good thing about women's football is it's a small community and people are quite generous and quite giving. I think until now, they haven't necessarily known that their stories were valued or that they were important, but we're starting to really see that. So initially, they would sort of be not sure why you were contacting them, whereas I now think when you contact them, they go, "Okay, I understand that this story is important and I've got a contribution that should be documented here." Yeah.
Grace Gill: So if we fast forward to, well, just a few months ago really, when the book was released not long before the World Cup. And I wanna read just a line that I thought was quite fascinating, that this was written before the World Cup and the line says, "And in 2023, when Australia and New Zealand co-host the Women's World Cup, the Matildas will no longer be a curtain raiser or a footnote in history. They'll be the main event and story." So did you have an inkling? Did you know that what we were about to see was gonna be such a historic moment?
Fiona Crawford: Yeah. Oh wow. Yeah, throughout the event, because the book actually had... I mean, the lead time for printing books is so long. So that book had to go to print. Hats off to my publisher because they did let me push it up to the line a little bit. So I submitted a final manuscript in September last year. And you think about how long ago that is before the tournament was-
Grace Gill: A year ago.
Fiona Crawford: Yeah, it was a year ago. It really was. And even people hadn't really turned their minds to the tournament until January. Like I felt like there was a shift in January where everyone went, "Okay, it's 2023, it's World Cup year." So to be writing a book and to be trying to predict, it was hard and it was terrifying because you don't wanna miss out on anything. And there was actually a flurry around, I'm gonna say February, March. I would have to look at my diary. But yeah, there was a flurry around February March where quite a few things happened. There was like the Visit Saudi sponsorship, the ticket sales went nuts. They had to move the stadium to the 80,000-seat stadium. I think French Captain Wendie Renard had said, "I'm not gonna play for the coach."
There'd been like some real ructions and some real key moments. And of course, we were past proofing stage, we were past layout stage. So I kept having to email my publisher, saying, "Hello, I'm so sorry, but something really important has happened and we just need to add just one sentence." And so even things like the Visit Saudi, you'll notice there's about three or four words then not a whole line because I was trying not to affect like page breaks and all sorts of things. So they were so patient with me, and they were so good, and they said, "Look, we understand that's what happens when you write contemporary history."
But yeah once it went to print, I was quite anxious right up until the tournament 'cause I thought if something really big happens, yeah, I'm in trouble. But it was quite remarkable after that real flurry, yeah, things settled down again. And then throughout the tournament, it was just really affirming actually that so many of the themes that I had covered or I had identified or touched on that, yeah, like you're saying, that line really, really did play out, but also beyond my expectations. Is that fair to say?
Grace Gill: Yeah, I think it is fair to say, but also makes that so much more impressive that you'd almost manifested this, this tournament in a way that I don't think any of us could truly, truly appreciate.
Fiona Crawford: It's very kind that you say that, but I think it's probably that those themes are perennial in women's sports. So some of these gender equality issues that we are fighting over and over and over, different characters, but the same issue coming up over and over again.
There were definitely some cool moments though when I'd written a lot about the hijabs. So we know that there was a time when women were being prevented from playing football at a senior level under spurious medical concerns. And that Moya Dodd and Michelle Cox, who are former national team players for Australia and New Zealand respectively had been instrumental in overturning that ban. And that was only in like 2011, 2014. And we knew there was gonna be like a lead time in order to see 'cause Moya talked about it, she said, "That's great. We've now got girls and women able to play in hijab or safety hijab, which means an extra 800 million women can play or girls and women can play, but how long is it gonna be till we see someone playing that at a senior level?” You've gotta think of all the development phases. And then we actually saw the first player in Morocco. And so that was a really kind of goosebump moment for me. there were definitely a few of those where I went, "Wow, okay, we're seeing this play out already."
Grace Gill: Incredible. I remember travelling for probably what would've been one of my first trips as part of the World Cup through Sydney Airport and your book being alongside the likes of Sam Kerr's book and Hayley Raso's book. And that was the table of soccer books that was on display. And what's the response to the book for you being like?
Fiona Crawford: It has been so generous and so surreal. Yeah, like you're saying is going through so many airports. Fortunately, I'm anonymous for the most part. So you can walk up and have a look and see where your book is in a bookstore and not look like you're a complete idiot. But very kindly, lots of friends have actually been sending me, I get lots of random messages now, saying, "I saw your book in this place." And there was a moment last week 'cause it was Book Week last week, and I think many of you would've seen how many children turned up dressed as Matildas, though they were not. But there was definitely at least a couple who had my book. They had Sam Kerr's book and of course Harry Raso's, which was really wonderful. But yeah, it's been so kind and so generous.
And probably the nicest thing has been some of the former Matildas because probably they're the first audience. If I have not represented them fairly or truly, yeah, probably that's what I cared about the most. And when I ran into Melissa Barbieri at the airport, I was horribly tired. I felt like I'd had not had any sleep. And it was a very early flight. And I ran into her at the baggage carousel and she just said to me, "Oh look, yeah, they're talking about your book and they're all liking it." And so I thought, "Okay, well, that's a sign. It's okay if the former Matildas are okay with it, it's been true to their stories."
Grace Gill: Were you nervous about representing them?
Fiona Crawford: Completely. Yeah, completely. And I feel like I'm losing my ears a little bit. But anyway. Because I've written the first two books about the history of women's football in Australia, it's not because I think I'm special. It's because I've just gotten there first and done the sort of the hard yards. And I've been fortunate enough to be able to convince some publishers to back me, which has been a whole thing in itself because there's been a lot of nos and a lot of... As anyone in women's sport will tell you that there's not really many resources and you're constantly being told, there's no audience, there's no market for it, nobody wants to watch women's football, nobody wants to read books about women's football. So when you are pitching that to publishers, it's a really tough sell.
I was really nervous about it because it's been so hard to get them up. And then once you get them up, you want them to be good enough to kind of break open the space so that other people can also get their books published. So when you have the first book or two, if you don't get the first bits of the history right, feel the pressure.
I did hear James Williams who is a football academic from the UK, one of the leading academics in the world, and she sort of said... She talked recently about, and we're writing an imperfect history because when there isn't documentation of women's football, which there isn't, if you weren't there like I was for events like Snoop Dogg, you're trying to gather up pieces that you don't know exist or you don't know what you're missing, you don't dunno what you don't know. I said that to so many interviewees, I just don't know what I don't know, so please tell me. And yeah, so you write something and then you hope that you've got all the pieces of the puzzle there. And if you don't, you think, okay, someone's gonna come out of the woodwork and tell me they absolutely will. But yeah, it's really affirming to know that for the most part. You've got at least the foundations there.
Grace Gill: And ultimately as a fan, like many of us in the room of the team of the World Cup, what was your experience like to then sit in the stands and see these games live?
Fiona Crawford: I am still processing it. I don't know if you are as well. I think everyone who's been in this space for a while knew the potential of women's football. And you can hear that in the interviews with Eugenie Buckley, for example, is saying that this is the largest women's football or sporting event in the world. And Australia doesn't know what is about to hit them. I mean, that's one of my quotes that I kept, the quotes that I kept thinking about throughout the tournament 'cause like, wow, she really did nail it.
There were so many moments that it felt like a cultural shift. And I loved all those moments where that really surprised me, like Aloisi saying he was really happy to be relegated to me, the second best penalty taker, or I was reminded yesterday of that international flight where everyone was watching their penalties except for the person watching "Lord of the Rings." That was everywhere on my social media. Like everyone was posting it for days and it remains one of my favourite moments from the tournament. And gosh, just, I don't know. Were there moments like that for you?
Grace Gill: Yeah, I think fair to say the tournament exceeded expectations. And I knew it would be big, and I think everyone knew it would have a bit of a seismic effect, but not to the degree that it did. And the fact that the Matildas played in seven games, all of which were completely sold out, over 400,000 fans attended just the Matildas games. That is incredible because we had the Matildas Sendoff Game on the 14th of July in Melbourne and that was a record breaking crowd, about 48,000. And that was huge. And we thought, wow, this is incredible. But I don't think at that point we realised that then every stadium thereafter would also be that and some. So to sit and be part of that was quite overwhelming, quite emotional. And I'm really happy that it exceeded expectations because it did in every regard.
Fiona Crawford: And it's even like one moment was so big and then it quickly got surpassed by something, even like the Canada game was so big. And when you think about it now in relation to the, say, the quarterfinal with the penalty shootout, they were just what... And even the amount of people who turned up, even not just the Matildas games, but you're at Columbia versus... Yeah, it was just Nigeria versus Haiti. I couldn't believe how many Haitian fans they were. And I was like, "They're everywhere and they were fantastic." And yeah, everyone really got on board with it.
Grace Gill: And you mentioned the Penalty Shootout Game, which I think we're all still emotionally not yet recovered from.
Fiona Crawford: I saw that you could have a replay of it recently and I was like, "Who can watch this? Who can watch this?"
Grace Gill: Absolutely not.
Fiona Crawford: Yes.
Grace Gill: But tell me, where were you? Where were you sitting? Where were you watching from? What was your experience? Let's just call it the France game.
Fiona Crawford: I was immediately behind the goal where they were taking the penalties. Yeah.
Grace Gill: It was not a bad seat.
Fiona Crawford: Was not a bad seat. It was intense. There were people standing around me who couldn't watch the penalties who were actually like facing back towards us while the rest of us were-
Grace Gill: I didn't have that luxury.
Fiona Crawford: Oh no.
Grace Gill: I had to be eyes on that one.
Fiona Crawford: Exactly. I couldn't actually stand still. I just had to jiggle my legs the whole time. So I was just-
Grace Gill: You're standing up, sitting down?
Fiona Crawford: Everyone was standing up. Everyone was up. There was no chance of sitting down. I don't think I've had such a collective experience with so many people feeling so tense in was... And I completely lost track maybe 'cause I was in the stadium, maybe 'cause it was happening right in front of me. I probably could have looked at the screens, but I don't know, there was too much going on. I had no idea even who was by the end 'cause it kept going for so long. Who is this the winning penalty? I don't know. And then someone would miss. And so I just had to kind of give up and just someone's gonna take a kick. And I had to wait for the rest of the crowd to erupt before I could go, "Okay, yay, it's done."
But then I was actually hit by this just absolutely unexpected force of emotion. And I ended up actually really ugly crying in the stadium. And I didn't know if it was just me. But I've seen a few women posting in recent days, like Sam Squiers who's a football journalist who's been in the trenches for years supporting women's sport when nobody really loved it. And she had this like same, and she posted, footage of herself, like the force of emotion. I don't know, it was just such a big moment. And I think you could feel how the hard yards that it had taken to get you there. And you could feel that seismic shift where something had just shifted and we were not going backwards from here. I mean, you had to keep it together for the nation. I don't know.
Grace Gill: For the nation. I'm not so sure that I did, but I did have to watch and it was a pretty moving experience. So we sort of have a plan in commentary where you've got your full-time production schedule. And then if it goes to extra time, if it goes to penalties, we throw back to hosting, we come back to the commentators. So we had a brief throw back to hosting just to say, "Yep, this is what's happening, we're going to penalties." So Mel McLaughlin and the crew, Bruce McAvaney, they filled that time. And during that time, David Beshear and I were chatting back to our director, our producer, "Okay, this is what's happening." David Beshear says to me, "Can you just keep me honest? Let me know if it's gonna be the winning penalty." I'm looking, going, "What meeting?" But we had the producers in our ear, directors in our ear.
I remember I set up my phone. We had this brief break while we threw back to hosting. I set up my phone, so I've got this footage of Beshear and I. And as the penalty shootouts wear in on, you see us sort of calling it and completely forgot about my phone. And you're right, penalty shootout, it was a record-breaking penalty shootout. Never in Men's or Women's World Cup history has it gone that long. But when it went to sort of the sixth, the seventh kicker, I think one of the most impressive things was actually the girls kicking not to win the game, but to stay in the game. That to me, that pressure was palpable, and terrifying, and exciting. And I was jotting down. I've got the sheet of paper somewhere. I had France. I had Australia and I had the names. It probably looks like a scroll of a mess now, but I'd have a tick or a cross if they did or didn't get it, so I could sort of see where we're up to.
And we also had our producer in our ear, saying, "This one to win it or has to convert." So, you've got constant communication coming through. And when Courtney Vine stepped up to take that one, we knew that if she scored that, that she was gonna win it. So that that happened. And David Beshear sort of did his part and then we just let it breathe. Because so often in commentary, some of the most beautiful moments are where just the crowd noise, and the celebration, and the pictures tell the story. You don't need to speak over it.
Meanwhile, you hear him talking, I'm punching him, I'm slapping him that I looked back on my mobile phone footage later. The response is so emotional. And in commentary, there's not just me and Beshear. There's sort of commentators from all over the world nearby us. And you're just looking around, seeing the different reactions, people crying, people deflated, people dejected, people celebrating, people fist pumping. And after, we let that nice moment of pause play out and I come in to do my part as expert commentator. My sentence, my voice just broke. And I think in those moments, they're the most authentic, most emotional, necessary moments to tell a story. And for me, that was my story. It was similar to yours, with the exception of the ugly cry. It was the overwhelming emotion of the moment. And it was exactly that.
Fiona Crawford: It was so massive. I mean, I didn't realise till later that it broke the decibel like the sound barrier, not the sound barrier, but it's just pretty impressive 'cause Suncorp does have some quite big acts go to it. But it did match what the experience was like because that roar of the crowd was like a physical, like it went through you. It felt like-
Grace Gill: It was visceral.
Fiona Crawford: Yeah, it was visceral. And it was just... Yeah. There's actually a really awesome guy up the road at Caxton Street. I don't know if anyone goes to Brisbane very often, but there's like only a few really cute Queenslander cottages in this now really built up area around the stadium and it's very expensive real estate. But there's a couple. There must be rent like rentals. And there's a guy who basically was out there, just had his own music going 'cause Caxton Street goes off when there's big matches on. And he was just having a dance party the whole tournament. And I thought this guy is just... He's all in for the Women's World Cup. He's like, "What game's on today? And I'm gonna bring the party to Caxton Street as everyone comes down." And I just thought there were moments like that. And then you went into the stadium and you had a moment like that. It felt like what it must been like to be in the stadium for Cathy Freeman's race. I don't know if anyone here has been there. I saw that on TV and it was that moment. I'm seeing your hand up back there.
Grace Gill: Yeah.
Fiona Crawford: Yeah. I know. And so many people have told me since about where they were in that moment. Like everyone talking about that penalty shootout. I've got friends who said, "I had to take one for the team." One child was a flag bearer at the game. So it was holding the... Doing the very important stuff, wearing the... Actually had to wear kit that ended up being too big. 'cause they didn't have any normal size. So they were wearing an extra large men's kit and they were like this really young, tiny girl. And I said, "That's fine, you've just had the quintessential women's football experience." That's been like every Matilda. But she said I had to take one for the team. So my husband took the daughter to do the flag bearing. She had to go to the other daughter's dance recital. But she said every mother at the dance recital was kind of like, "Yeah, yeah, great," and was like watching the penalty shootout on their phone. Yeah, like the international flight and the person watching "Lord of the Rings" who I'd love to talk to 'cause I don't know what they thought was going on.
Grace Gill: Can't be sure.
Fiona Crawford: It was a match that stopped donation. And I just didn't know that. I knew women's football was gonna be... It was that good. The product's always been that good, but I just didn't know we were gonna have that moment.
Grace Gill: No, and I don't think we did either. I think that was a watershed moment. And 11.15 million viewers is a fairly terrifying thought, particularly listening to my voice. But that was groundbreaking. And I know that there was some further research done to suggest that the actual numbers around that were nearer to that of 17 million. So 65% of the country tuning into this game.
And to your point about the Cathy Freeman moment, a lot of the Matildas talked about that moment being inspiration for them. They would've been very, very little when that happened back in 2000. But also in a full circle moment, I worked alongside Bruce McAvaney who called that incredible moment. So it was really quite lovely to hear his reflections of being involved in that. And then fast forward 23 years being involved in this and he said, "This is bigger." Stats aside, data aside, he said he can feel it and this is bigger. And this is a man who is iconic and has been the soundtrack to many of our sporting moments in decades gone by. And really special to have him part of that, not a football in person, but you can't fault Bruce for the way in which he prepares for these things. And he understood how big a moment this was for the country. And I think to the point of the roar when that penalty went in, the only point I would say I felt it was even slightly bigger was the England game where Sam equalised. Whoo! If you wanna talk about noise-
Fiona Crawford: Yeah, true.
Grace Gill: In the stadium. Unbelievable. To give you a gauge of how noisy it is, I'm sure anyone who is in the stadium could've understood that. But again, I sit alongside David Beshear, we're closer than this. We're sort of at arms length apart.
Fiona Crawford: Punching distance.
Grace Gill: Punching distance, punching distance. Both have headsets on. And if you take your headsets off to talk to each other, you can't hear each other, like you're yelling at each other. That moment when Sam scored was just unbelievable. Unbelievable the noise. And again, they're those moments where you just let it play out because it's spine-tingling. Everyone is on this journey.
Of course, we would've loved to see that game fall perhaps a different way. But it was a glimpse. And I was really pleased for Sam too that with all of her difficulties in the tournament, that she got on and she was able to score a goal that would've been so, so special for her.
Fiona Crawford: Oh gosh, I know because... I mean, if you were writing a Hollywood script, I feel like that's what the tournament they had where they were in danger of not making it out the group. And I was genuinely frightened 'cause I was thinking, oh gosh, like the conservative media's really going to come after them. I was visualising the headlines, and yet they made it out of the group with that phenomenal Canada game, which then everyone was like, "How good is football after this?" And then the country was then just absolutely behind them. And then they kept just kind of levelling up, and levelling up, and levelling up that quarterfinal. And then to go to that semifinal, obviously, not the result we wanted. But for Sam's goal where she was also having that story, that parallel experience of the team was almost not making it, and then it's most famous player was also almost not making it onto the pitch. It was just, yeah... I feel like probably there's somebody trying to write a film script to write about now that, yeah.
Grace Gill: And they should. They should be.
Fiona Crawford: It would be massive. It would be massive.
Grace Gill: So do you think sort of all of this in mind, and we've all had these experiences, walking through airports, you see people in a Matildas scarf or a Matildas jersey and complete stranger, but there's a knowing nod and there's a bit of an acknowledgement? It might be a conversation, a sharing of stories. It's well and truly united the nation. But do you think this is genuinely one of these dial shift moments where this has changed the culture of sport in our country?
Fiona Crawford: I think so. I've got a quote in the book from one of the staff members and I was part of some of those conversations. So, Joe Fernandez, who was a long time team manager, she was doing really the hard yards for about 13 years when they had no money. And she was magic in the way she was able to make things happen for the players and not let them know how hard it was behind the scenes to kind of pull it all together. But she said there were so many moments where you could feel like, this is it, we've turned the corner, things are gonna be really great from here.
And I know I personally was part of that in the 2011 World Cup where they'd made it through to the quarterfinals. They're up against Sweden. They'd played really well throughout the group, but I think you couldn't watch the Australian games 'cause we were in Germany and I don't think they were broadcasting them here, or they finally were putting it on at a prime time or something. And there was a bit of media coverage and a bit of groundswell and so we were like, "This is it, the Matilda's gonna do really well and Australia's gonna fall in love with them." And then they had a real shocker against Sweden, which is still painful to even think about and it all fell away. And that's happened so many times because we went to the Olympic qualifiers after that and we didn't get through. It was a bit controversial. North Korea had been there. And they'd actually been kicked out of the World Cup for drug, some very sad drug offences. But there was no drug testing at the Olympic qualifiers, which were only six weeks later. And so we missed out by like literally one point. And it all fell away again for about four years.
So there were so many of those moments where I thought this is it, we've turned the corner. I don't know, this one feels different. It feels like the foundations have shifted. It feels like it's now, I don't wanna say too big to fail, I don't wanna jinx this, but I don't know, I think maybe some of those conditions are right. The players are now actually earning some money. They've got some profiles. They're able to play year round. They're playing it really big clubs like Chelsea. Social Media is enabling them to connect directly with that audience. And we've now got the data to show people are buying jerseys which, for so long ,you couldn't buy because they didn't think there was a market for it, so they didn't manufacture them. We've got ticket sales data, which again we didn't have. And we kept being told nobody wants to watch women's football, but they were not putting it on in stadiums or making it possible for you to attend easily or to watch on TV easily. And now we've got it on pay-TV, as well as free to air. We do need to talk about the anti-siphoning laws, but that's a whole other thing. But I don't know, it feels like some of those conditions are right now that they're not gonna go away in the same way that... Is that what it feels like for you?
Grace Gill: Yeah, I think so. Along with anti-siphoning laws, we can add goalkeeping jerseys to the list of things to talk about later. We'll come back to that one. But no, I do think so. I think there has been a seismic shift, but I'm interested in your thoughts about this Matildas team. What do you think it is specifically about this team, this group of girls, this brand that unites a nation in a way that other sports, other codes, other athletes haven't quite been able to do in the way that the Matildas have? What do you think is that point of difference?
Fiona Crawford: I think it's partly because it's the world game and so there's that international reach that I think has not been there, but I think as well, and this is something they'll have to be considerate of as they move forward and we see increasing amounts of money and sponsorship coming into the space. But going back to what we were saying earlier, to succeed in a space where you've had no resources or attention or you've gotta really want to be there, and you've gotta really be working hard. So I think you've gotta be a more fully formed human because you can't be your only pursuit. And so you're having to do other things or you're having to really dedicate yourself and commit yourself. So when you're there, you're taking it seriously. You are doing the hard yards, and maybe that makes you more interesting to engage with or that's what makes them so fascinating to watch and to learn about. And it probably what makes them somebody that you want to admire or look up to. I don't know. Is that-
Grace Gill: Yeah, no.
Fiona Crawford: They do have some sort of X factor, don't they?
Grace Gill: I think they do. I think the stories as well around the personalities and their challenges that they've had, both as athletes and individuals resonates with a lot of us. I think the Disney documentary was well timed for that as well because it gave a really lovely insight to some of their experiences. But, Fiona, I'd say as well that your book has played a really important part in telling these stories. And I think the timing of it has been incredible. The fact that the team did so, so well, even more so. But I really wanna congratulate you on this marvellous read.
Fiona Crawford: Thank you.
Grace Gill: And thank you so much for sharing your knowledge, your expertise, and for being one of those pioneers in this space long before it was a cool thing to talk about. So please join me in thanking Fiona Crawford.
Fiona Crawford: Thank you.
Grace Gill: We do have some roving mics around the room, which if you have any questions, I'm more than happy for you to ask, but please do wait for the mics to reach you so that we can get those picked up.
Luke Hickey: Thanks. Just as we're getting ready with the microphones. Grace is so right about that roar. My boys and I watching at home. I reckon we nearly blew the windows out at home from the couches where we were. Fiona, while that process of writing might've felt ugly and messy to you, I think what we've ended up with is an amazing reflection on the beautiful game.
Fiona Crawford: Appreciate it.
Luke Hickey: So like to call now for questions from the audience, please.
Fiona Crawford: Grace, and I was saying before that our predictions before the World Cup about who was gonna do really well, yeah, not so good. So we will take any questions other than predictions around results.
Grace Gill: Then ask me to predict anything ever again. Gosh.
Audience Member 1: Thanks. I'd be keen to sort of know if you had a take or an insight in terms of other countries around the world. So, obviously, in Matildas was captivated by Australia, but it was any kind of other kind of big stories elsewhere.
Fiona Crawford: I know I was definitely being contacted by a lot of international media, which did surprise me. So they were very interested in the Australians and then also interpreting their own countries' experiences. So for example, a South Korean journalist contacted me, saying, "Look, the numbers of players in South Korea is kind of where we were a decade or two decades ago," and they can't really get the uplift that we can. So they're grappling with some of the issues that the Matildas did a decade ago and wanted to do a comparison.
I know German journalists, there were Spanish journalists from Turkey as well. So they were definitely watching the Matildas and seeing. And I think everyone could just see that this tournament was something extra. Those of us who'd been fortunate to go to World Cups before can tell you that they have been really great, but this really did kick it to another level. So, yes, international media was definitely picking up on it. Obviously, they were framing it through their own lens, but it makes me think, yeah, it did transcend the Australian kind of experience.
Grace Gill: Hmm. I think I sort of add to that by saying as well as co-hosts with New Zealand for them to win that opening game against Norway, their first ever win in a World Cup. We can't begin to imagine what that meant to them as a country and to those players who had never picked up a three points at a World Cup before, huge.
But then also some of the lower ranked nations across the tournament for them to have the success probably far beyond expectations. Columbia one of them, Haiti one of them. And now we know about these players. Linda Caicedo, incredible 18-year-old player who's overcome ovarian cancer three months ago, I'd say most of the people in this room didn't know about. They're the kind of stories that I find so, so inspiring. A World Cup with the nations that have all come to it, we've had our eyes opened in the very best way.
Fiona Crawford: And probably, I mean given how well they've done and given that many of those federation, those players having to battle federations, I'm not gonna talk about Spain 'cause, whoa, that's a whole other thing. But like for example, Nigeria or Canada, for example, Jamaica who had to crowdfund to get there. I'm curious as well that success, and it probably elevated them in their own host, in their own nations, which might actually mean really positive things and for actually getting some funding and some resourcing that they really really need. So, yeah, I think it's gonna be an interesting space to watch.
Grace Gill: Yeah, I think I'd add to that. I was really fortunate prior to the World Cup to be involved in a podcast series where we spoke to a few key experts from across the globe. And so many consistent stories across the conversations were, oh yeah, but the team had to battle the federation or the team had to fight for funding or the team had to strike to play. And of course, the Matildas had that experience as well back in 2015 around their central bargaining as well. But that's not an uncommon story in women's football.
And I think for these teams to come on the world stage and perform in the way they did makes that all the more spectacular and even to the point of some of these players that attending the World Cup and the money provided by FIFA just purely by their attendance in the group stage, genuinely life-changing. So of 30, 40 grand to these girls who would never have seen that kind of money in their lives, that's really, really special.
Fiona Crawford: And being paid directly to them for the first time as well. So not eaten up by federations and sort of redistributed to men's football, which has been very common in the past.
Audience Member 2: I just wanted to ask your opinion on the recent social media activity by the Wallaroos, just wondering if you think they might be able to leverage some of this goodwill, some of the Matilda's effect to help their own team prepare for their next challenges and and also build that sort of foundation of support. Do you think there's a chance it might backfire on them?
Fiona Crawford: I was really heartened. I mean, I was so sad when I saw it. And when I saw that letter, I thought that could have been written by any women's sports team because the experiences were so recognisable and so relatable. But I also just went, "Yeah, go." I think I might've said it in the book, but basically when it something benefits the Matildas, it benefits all women because of that world game kind of connection.
So, yeah, this is what I'm really excited to see what this means for the Wallaroos for AFLW for maybe some smaller netballers who won the World Cup and didn't receive any pay. Like we saw it I think off the back of 2015 where the AFLW, and Cricket, and everybody else was able to benefit. So I say, yeah, all power to the Wallaroos. I'm happy to support them wherever I can 'cause I do think there's just a bit too much media attention now for... It's probably not a good time to be a male administrator trying to justify not funding women's sports.
Grace Gill: Yeah, I'll leave it at that.
Audience Member 3: Hi. I was definitely all in in this World Cup. I think it was incredible. But my question to you is, what next for you and the next book? Because you see it now, you see it growing. And even when I was a young girl, we couldn't play soccer. I watched my brother play soccer, and we could only wait till we were nine to play netball. And you can see this seismic change. And you're right, it was visceral in the stadiums, but we've got Olympics next year, 2032 Olympics in Brisbane. It'd be really great to see your follow on book to say, well, what's that prediction that... What is "The Matilda Effect" come then like can you imagine what it's gonna be like if this really does take off? And I think it will because it's maybe the data around how many girls have now signed up for summer comps or for next year and utilising this effect to start building the game more here in Australia. The prediction for 2032 is gonna be buy my tickets now for...
Fiona Crawford: We were saying it's probably gonna be 'cause people over the tournament as they realised how awesome it was and really wanted to get a hold of some tickets, we were having people come out of the woodwork to be like, is there any chance? The number of people I could have sold my tickets so many times over. Yeah, my head is spinning with the possibilities. And I think like you, I'm looking at... We've got the Paralympics as well. I'm really excited about the ParaMatildas. I work in a space with the big issue a lot and with the homeless World Cup, so which uses football for addressing homelessness and other mental health issues and drug and alcohol addiction issues.
So I'm excited about the potential of it expanding beyond women's football as well and that uplift. Yeah, my head is spinning with all the possibilities. I know Sarah Walsh who's like... I think somebody quoted the other day, saying, have you ever seen anyone do their job better than Sarah Walsh? So she's the head of Women's Football at Football Australia. She's a former Matilda. Yeah, she's done some really hard yards over the years and I think at least half this tournament success is testament to her and her team. Yeah. I think there's gonna be so much to come. And I'm excited 'cause she talks about, I think we've gotten over the why or the value-based arguments, like is it worth it and should we really be funding women's football? And she wants to talk about the potential and the opportunities. And I think that's now where the conversation is and I'm excited for what's coming.
Grace Gill: I'm glad you've asked that question. I did have a question written down that I didn't ask Fiona was, when's the sequel coming out? But it's so true. I was listening earlier today to a podcast that was saying that Football New South Wales reported that their junior summer registrations are up something like 180%. So these are the numbers that we're now dealing with. And importantly, that piece around legacy, which was a big part of Sarah Walsh's job, is ensuring that we've got the right resources, funding, government support infrastructure to support that additional 180% worth of kids and children, boys and girls wanting to play.
Fiona Crawford: And like that attitude and all shift to that cultural change that comes with that as well where everyone keeps talking about that generation of boys who now grow up who have always seen women, girls, and women play football and are idolising women footballers as well. And I don't even know where that's gonna end. Like it's gonna be phenomenal.
Audience Member 4: Hi. Am I on?
Audience Member 4: Really interesting talk. The actual whole event was totally scripted even up to the album for the first match when you suddenly find out Sam Kerr not in the team and you could feel the country go, "Oh my God."
Grace Gill: Yeah.
Audience Member 4: But it was weird because it did actually provide, I guess, the bonus so that we learnt by default all about the other Matildas 'cause I never saw the documentary that was on... I guess it's on Disney or something. I don't have access to such things, but I'm naturally intrigued. My question though is "The Matilda Effect" going forward, interest is massive. The spotlight is gonna be huge. One would suspect on some of these players quite suddenly, are they mindful? I hope they are of managing that 'cause it isn't always gonna be sunrise. Some criticisms will come. Sometimes it'll be harsh, but sometimes there's gonna be legitimate. And will they have the necessary supports in place to manage that transition? 'Cause they're gonna go global. It's a big change.
Grace Gill: I really hope so. In answer to your question, there's a few different mechanisms for that. One is immediate support networks, which some players are really fortunate to have in family and friends, others less so. Of course, there's player management as well to talk through some of those options. And I think to use your example about some of these plays who are going from what they were pre-World Cup to now is a player like Clare Hunt who had only ever played domestically. She debuted for the Matildas in February of this year at the couple of nations and has now started in every game since. And rest assured she's gonna be picked up by a club internationally, whether that's in England or the WSL where so many of the girls are playing. And that's a huge shift from a country girl playing in Australia moving overseas. And I think from our side of things, we see the glossy social media post I've signed with so and so and you see them holding up the jersey or signing the contract, but what that actually means to someone's life is unbelievable. It's a comfort zone. It's international travel, it's language barriers. It's moving away from everything they've ever known.
And I had jotted down another line from the book, Fiona, that you said, for every on-camera moment that sparks admiration, there are plenty of off-camera moments that we'll never see. And that really resonated with me because while these women are our heroes and we look upon them with so much admiration, there's so much hardship behind this travel, this journey as well.
And I think as well look at the squad of 23, five of those girls didn't see a single minute. And that's one of the hardest positions to be in because they're out there celebrating, supporting their teammates. And as a player, as a former player, I've been in both positions where I play every minute and I play no minutes at all. And I know what that feels like, so I can watch and talk about every single player on the field. But rest assured my thoughts are with Lydia Williams, Teagan Micah, Aivi Luik, Claire Wheeler, Kyah Simon, the five players who didn't see minute because they're so important. And Clare Hunt, Courtney Vine, we know Courtney's staying in Australia, but I really, really hope that they have the right support, financial advice networks around them to ensure that they keep their feet on the ground.
Fiona Crawford: And I mean, Grace is actually much more qualified to answer that question than me, but I will add that just in the book, I was really careful and I guess fortunate to have been a staff member around the Matildas. And I've seen them do the hard yards and I've seen the player who is injured, or who someone like an Aivi Luik who just missed out on so many World Cups. And then she finally did make the 2019 World Cup, and then she had the most amazing, making the 2023 World Cup. But for all of that time, she actually played 180 seconds of World Cup football. So she played for three minutes, which was in 2019. She didn't make it on the pitch this time. And and the challenges of that of, like, it's such an enormous accomplishment 'cause she's at the top of her game, the best of the best in the country. And you're still not quite making it across the line.
Yeah, I was really careful in the book to try to celebrate all of the contributions of the players and to acknowledge that for the good moments where you say, yeah, Courtney Vine scored the winning penalty and oh my God, the whole love nation loves her. But to contrast that with the really challenging moments of, say, Ellie Carpenter who is a phenomenal player, just had a moment, got beaten by a player as you do as a defender. And yeah, that goal against England. And I know she copped a lot of social media abuse, which was horrible. So it is definitely a double-edged sword.
I know they have like a team psychologist now. They do have things in place. They try to keep them in a bubble and it's not because they're trying to be... They think they're celebrities or anything like that. It is about managing that mental health 'cause the pressure that would've been on them as the home nation is just beyond.
I think probably that's even the testament to their performance at the World Cup is to play the way they did when things were so tough and there's so much expectation on you as the host nation and so much expectation on Sam Kerr alone. And the obsession with her injury was just beyond. Lauren Hanna is one of the team physios. I've interviewed her for the book and I very deliberately didn't message her during the World Cup 'cause I thought to be the physio that has to try to rehabilitate Sam Kerr's calf to get her back in the... That is a fresh moment. She has a bit going on. I don't want her to feel like I'm trying to find out what's going on, so I'm just gonna leave her be to do her job.
Grace Gill: But you can now add that one to her CV 'cause she did remarkably well to get it out.
Fiona Crawford: She did, she did.
Audience Member 5: I wanted to ask. How do you think "The Matilda Effect" after this World Cup will also help like grassroots football? Coming back to the point earlier, because I know a lot of like very promising girls like coming into NPL and then dropping out after a year or two 'cause they can't afford the fees to play at the club level, like the NPL level and then go through the process of like moving up. I know there's 200 million in women's sport, but how do you think like there will be funding like contributed to these clubs to help these like girls that are just like falling off the waggon as they go up?
Fiona Crawford: I don't know. I feel like Grace is probably more qualified because Grace is affiliated with the PFA as well. So the players' union and is looking out for players' mental health and that real pathway that players have. I agree a hundred percent. I think as much as we really wanna celebrate the success of this World Cup, I mean, we know now that this is probably where things get a bit more real. Yeah, it is looking at those really hard questions of how do we ensure that you can play the sport if you are not necessarily from a high socioeconomic or a middle class background? If you are from a refugee background or a regional area where you don't have as much access, it's some of those really tough questions.
I have real questions about the $200 million. I was so excited when they announced it. But I really wanna see the detail of that and how that's gonna play out because I was quite fascinated that when you fund men's sport, you would say I'm gonna give $200 million to the NRL, for example. I can't ever see them saying, I'm gonna give it to men's sport and then put everybody in the same bucket. So as much as it was a great move, I also thought it was quite symptomatic of how women's sports are treated. It's like we're all lumped in the same bucket and then we've gotta figure it out together. And where does women's sports start and finish, I guess, is some of the questions I've got is, obviously, football, netball, but what does that go down to rhythmic gymnastics? I don't know. Yeah.
Grace Gill: It's a great question and a big question as well. I think in a country like Australia, that is always gonna be one of our challenges purely for the geography, the size of us. And you're right, Fiona, we are always going to miss players and kids who live in remote communities who can't afford to play. And that's where it's so important that the funding is directed to some of those grassroots levels or to those NPL levels so that it's dispersed and that doesn't get lumped with the juniors to pay the seniors. we wanna move away from that model. But it's a great question, one that I'm not sure we can tackle in this room tonight, but I really hope to see that that flows on through to our young players 'cause that's where our future is.
Fiona Crawford: I think if you were a funder and a sponsor, you'd be really looking at throwing some money towards women's football right now. So that does give me hope that there will be some scholarships and some grants and some money really injected into that space to help with the next generation of Matildas. So, yeah.
Audience Member 6: With the whole keepers jersey fiasco because Mackenzie did so well. Do you think that'll change? Do you think we'll get a keepers jersey or?
Grace Gill: Go ahead.
Fiona Crawford: Did you see the croissants made their own? I don't know if you've seen, there's some super fans. They're called the croissants and they make their own costumes and turn up. They made their own Mackenzie Arnold kit brick wall and they did little like brick walls that they kind of had as like wings when they lifted up. Yeah, the pressure is on. And I think that's a really exciting thing is it's... Before, I think manufacturers could say or could dismiss it, or they could ignore 'cause there wasn't really that groundswell, but I think what we've seen has been so public and so visible. So yeah, I'm excited. I don't know if it's coming. They definitely said the UK-
Grace Gill: There was four teams which they sort of backtracked on. This is Nike. Whether or not that changes specifically for Mackenzie shirt, I really hope that it does. And I think it will be one of those lesson learned moments for World Cups future tournaments. I do think that'll change purely by demand and necessity.
Fiona Crawford: Yeah. I think I said something like it's a really good symptom of women's football, like how well it's succeeding, but at the same time, how it's still being hampered. But yeah, croissants can also help with figuring out your own DIY kit in the interim. Yeah.
Audience Member 7: Thank you both for a wonderful conversation. I wanted to just pick up on the pay parity point that you referenced earlier about Jamaica, and Nigeria, South Africa, Canada. They were all threatening not to get on the plane and come to Australia. And I was really heartened by the leadership role that the PFA, the Players Football Association took, the Professional Football Association said that they wanted to increase the collective bargaining opportunities around the world and to get better pay parity for those other countries so that we can lift the standard for everyone. The Matildas have managed to achieve an element of pay parity, and we wanna see that in other places. So I just wondered what was next. What are the next steps for the PFA? And what kind of leadership role can Australia take to spread "The Matilda Effect" around the world?
Fiona Crawford: I feel like that's a question for you to start with much more a-
Grace Gill: Yeah. No, it is a really good question. And the Professional Footballers Association do a marvellous job here in this country and support our players, not just the Matildas, the national teams and the soccerers too, but our A-Leagues teams. And the fact that our women domestically have the support in a player's union is a lot more than other countries have. So first and foremost, I'd say that they do a spectacular job. I had an interesting conversation with a woman who actually played in the A-League, Gabby Garton. She played for Melbourne Victory, Argentinian, and played... Sorry?
Audience Member: Goalkeeper.
Grace Gill: Goalkeeper. And played in the 2019 World Cup for Argentina. And I asked her about the success of the Men's Argentina team in Qatar and if she felt or thought or understood that any of that would be felt back through the women's programme. And I had this conversation with her probably in about May or June. So months and months after, Argentina had won the Men's World Cup. And she said that it was something that they hadn't seen come through yet and that she hoped it would. Whether or not it actually does, your guess is as as good as mine. But this is where the players' unions are really good in collectively ensuring that the players get, whether it's pay parity or proportionately right, what they deserve.
And I think the important part of that is the collective part that the teams are doing this together and that they have someone representing them because the players alone. They shouldn't have to, it shouldn't have to be a fight that they fight, but this is where the unions in that case are so important to facilitate that.
Fiona Crawford: And I'm definitely interested. We're seeing now... I mean, you're seeing Angel City, for example, so you're seeing a different model. I think the Matildas have obviously, so it's a good time to be renegotiating their CBA as well. You're seeing a lot of those former players who previously were lost from the game. So with the exception of, say, someone like a Moya Dodd who has been able to stay in the game to some degree and at a board or governance level. But you're seeing now, so Sarah Gregorio, who's a former football firm who's really smart and really funny. She was hilarious to interview. They're doing really good research, really good work at the FIFPRO, which is like the international players union level. I don't know.
You've got someone like an Ali Riley who I think is once her... She's an also captain of the football fans once her career. They're gonna continue in this space. And they've got this really interesting experience of coming through with no money and then some money and then now being able to turn it to a career where they can make good changes for everyone coming behind them.
So I'm interested in seeing people like that move into the PFA kind of space as well. So yeah, I think it's a good time as a woman to be trying to negotiate some of those because it's too public. A bit like the Wallaroos we were talking about before is if you are not stepping forward and supporting women's football now or putting some decent conditions and money on the table, I think it's actually gonna be too public now to get away with, yeah.
Luke Hickey: Terrific. Fiona and Grace, thank you so much for tonight's discussion. We could've probably fielded questions for another two hours, I reckon. After that, we did have a question online, which was a bit similar to the ones you've had around the grassroots football. And we perhaps we might just finish off with just one thing that we can do locally ourselves. You saw the armies of people marching on stadiums, on watch parties, on all sorts of things. You saw national institutions like ours lighting up in green and gold to support the teams. Is there something that everyone in the audience and people who are watching can do to really get behind local girls and women's sport?
Grace Gill: Yeah, I think the obvious one for me is go along to the A-league Men's and Women's. These are where your national heroes are made. Every single player in the Matildas started in the A-league. And I guarantee if you watch the A-League this year, there'll be a handful of those players that in years to come, we'll be in the Matildas and you get to sit here and say, "Yeah, well I was there when they were starting out." So get behind your local competition, get behind the domestic league because it's pretty special.
Fiona Crawford: I would agree with that a hundred percent. And then probably just say support as much as you can to contribute to that data because that's really gonna be what drives... It's the decision makers. So Sarah Walsh or the people who are having to have those really hard conversations now need that data to be able to support the argument that women's football is worth supporting. So tune in and so you're part of those broadcast figures. Follow the social media accounts unlike the posts so they can show the engagement. Follow all the players. If there is an opportunity to write a letter or something to a local minister because all of that gets counted. And when they say, "Look, we are seeing this critical mass of people behind this," or there's the ticket sales or the jersey sales, it's all that data that they go, "Yes, this is worth throwing more money at, worth investing, worth in sporting, worth putting on it good hours, worth making available to the general public." And yeah, that's the hard data. it's the reality of it. I'm not a data person myself, but I am conscious that that's actually what's going to change the game for us.
Luke Hickey: Thank you both so much, both for all of your insights, particularly into the inner sanctums, both as player, commentator, author, and sharing some of those stories from former Matildas as well. We're really grateful for you sharing those. Rest assured you weren't the only one ugly crying during some of those penalty shootouts, as well as part of it. And I suspect that the next episode of "The Matilda Effect," you won't have as much problem pushing it with publishers as you might have-
Fiona Crawford: I know-
Luke Hickey: In the first one.
Fiona Crawford: I'm hoping there's gonna be a lot more books and it opens it up to lots of other people to be writing books as well. So I am kind of keen to see what's coming next.
Luke Hickey: Fantastic. That does bring our event to a close tonight. I do hope you can join us upstairs in the foyer where our library bookshop is open. And Fiona has kindly agreed to sign copies of "The Matilda Effect." You may also take the opportunity to have a quick look at Grit & Gold, our exhibition, Tales from a Sporting Nation which actually does close on the 28th of January next year. So it's getting an extended summer run, perhaps courtesy of the Matildas as well.
A couple of other quick plugs before we go. If you enjoyed tonight's discussion, you might be interested in some of the upcoming events. On the 5th of September, we'll be hosting the Great Debate with the Academy of the Social Sciences, "Does Sport Unite or Divide Us?"
And on 3rd of October, Michael Winkler will speak about Grimmish, his 2022 Miles Franklin shortlisted exploded non-fiction novel, the story of Italian American boxer, Joe Grims Tour of Australia in 1908.
You might also be interested in having a look at our YouTube channel. We had a wonderful Women in Sport panel event in the middle of August with Michelle Heyman, Holly Ferling, and Vanessa Low, which was really great event. It's available on our YouTube channel as all our events are and tonight's will be if you want to share and forward that on to other people. Thank you so much for coming. Please join me again in thanking our wonderful guests tonight.
Join Fiona Crawford as she discussed her latest book The Matilda Effect with former Matildas soccer star Grace Gill.
About The Matilda Effect
The Matilda Effect is the exciting, inspiring, sometimes infuriating and always colourful story of the Australian women's football (soccer) team, the Matildas, and their ultimately successful struggle, alongside other women from around the world, to compete in World Cup football. From the 1980s, when women had to pay to participate in the pilot Women's World Cup, to 2019, when the principle of equal pay for women players was finally accepted amid surging interest in their game, the voices of key figures emerge. A book at once about and not about sport, and with a throughline of human rights and gender equality history, The Matilda Effect takes the reader out of the stands and onto the pitch, into the team's hotels, buses, boardrooms and social media universe, where positive change has been wrestled into being.
About Fiona Crawford
Fiona Crawford is a writer, editor and researcher whose work spans social and environmental issues, the arts and football and has appeared in The Sydney Morning Herald, The Big Issue and The Conversation among others. She is an adjunct lecturer at the Queensland University of Technology's Centre for Justice and co-authored a book, Never Say Die: The Hundred-Year Overnight Success of Australian Women's Football.
About Grace Gill
Grace Gill is an accomplished Australian soccer player and commentator. She has played for Canberra United in the Australian W-League, for Slovácko in the Czech Women's First League, and has represented Australia as part of the Matildas national team. Gill is currently a football commentator and analyst at Network 10, and will be part of Channel 7's FIFA Women's World Cup 2023 commentary team.