Impetus’ Kris Goman was at Stadium Australia in Sydney this morning for the media launch ahead of the Matildas forthcoming two-game series with the USWNT at the end of this month. She spoke exclusively to Emily Van Egmond, Jada Whyman, and Bryleeh Henry. Kris additionally heard from NSW Premier Dominic Perrottet, The Hon Natalie Ward, and Acting USA Consul General Elizabeth Power
Above: Matildas Jada Whyman and Bryleeh Henry meet some younger footballers at the media launch this morning. Photo: Kris Goman.
There was quite the roll-up of politicians and football elite at Stadium Australia this morning to discuss the upcoming match between Australia’s Matildas and the reigning World Cup titleholders, the US Women’s National Team (USWNT).
New South Wales (NSW) Premier, Dominic Perrottet, was joined by the NSW Sports Minister, The Hon Natalie Ward, and the NSW Tourism Minister, The Hon Stuart Ayres, along with the Football Australia CEO, James Johnson, Football NSW Director, Stephanie Brantz and Acting US Consul General, Elizabeth Power. Representing the Matildas we had Emily van Egmond, Remy Siemsen, Brylee Henry, and Jada Whyman.
The Hon Natalie Ward opened proceedings by announcing that Sydney was open for sports and was excited to announce $5 tickets for registered players under the age of 12. She particularly wanted to welcome back families to 100% capacity to see their heroes live in the flesh.
Dominic Perrottet was keen to inspire the next generation of sporting stars. He said, “We’re not just bringing sports back, we’re bringing crowds back.” He was confident that we’d break the record for a Matildas game in NSW.
The US Acting Consul General, Elizabeth Power, said that the USWNT were thrilled to be coming here for the first time in over 20 years and were looking forward to reinforcing the bonds of two great sporting nations with a great rivalry. She didn’t want to make a prediction on the final outcome but was looking forward to cheering from the stands.
The USWNT haven’t visited our sunny shores since the Sydney Olympics in 2000. As Remy Siemsen said, “Before I was born.” Although a quick Google confirms she was actually born but was under a year of age, so clearly doesn’t remember it. The key thing here though is that there’s no one on either team that was on those Olympic teams 21 years ago. While quite a few of the USWNT, like Megan Rapinoe, Emily Sonnet, Abby Dahlkemper, and Lynn Williams have played in the W-League over the years, this current version of the star-studded USWNT have not been here before. It’s actually quite rare for the USWNT to play outside the USA for friendlies so NSW has quite the coup.
Coming off a nil all draw and 4-3 loss for the Bronze medal at the Tokyo Olympics, the Matildas have something to prove. There’s the added intrigue of club teammates playing against each other. Caitlin Food, Steph Catley, and Lydia Williams all play with Tobin Heath at Arsenal, Emily Van Egmond plays with Alex Morgan at Orlando Pride, Ellie Carpenter plays with Catarina Macario at Olympique Lyonnais. Additionally, Sam Kerr will be playing against her girlfriend, Kristie Mewis.
One of the key drivers for this press conference was to sell tickets. Football Australia has made $5 tickets available to all registered players under the age of 12 for the Sydney Stadium Australia match and $10 tickets for the Newcastle match at McDonald Jones Stadium. Non-playing adults will be paying a bit more but this is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to watch these two top women’s teams play live.
Stadium Australia is the Olympic Stadium and currently has a capacity of 83,500. The seating has recently been rearranged to make it more of a rectangle stadium so the seating is more suitable for football crowds.
The sale of tickets is paramount to setting a new record for watching the Matildas. In 2017, 15,089 fans watched the Matildas beat Brazil 2-1 in Penrith. Newcastle beat that crowd a couple of days later with an attendance of 16,829. In 2019, that record fell when Australia played Chile in front of 20,029 people. But the biggest attendance for a Matildas match was actually back at the Olympics against Sweden when 33,600 turned up to watch the two teams draw in their group stage match. But that number pales into insignificance compared to the biggest crowd for a women’s match in Australia which was between Sweden and Brazil at the MCG in Melbourne, also part of the Sydney Olympics, before 58,432 people.
With cheap tickets, a huge venue, and a family-friendly kickoff time of 3pm, the stage is set to blow those figures out of the water. Could we dream of beating the 77,768 people that turned up to watch the England v Germany friendly at Wembley in 2019? Or the record for an Olympic women’s match which was set at the London Olympics in 2012 with a crowd of 80,203 for the final between Japan and the USA which saw Japan get the Gold. The stadium is big enough but it would have to sell out. Unfortunately, it won’t be possible to beat the all-time record of both Women’s Football and Women’s Sport which was the World Cup Final between the USA and China at the Rose Bowl in the USA which was 90,185 as that number is beyond the capacity of the stadium in its current configuration.
Whatever happens, the atmosphere is going to be electric and everyone should make every effort to witness these matches live. COVID restrictions are largely lifted although only the double vaccinated will be able to attend but travel from the regions is now possible. Tickets are on pre-sale now and general sale tomorrow 9/11/21
Former West Ham United star Emily van Egmond spoke about the excitement of two matches against the World champions as well as her extensive travels in recent weeks:
“We obviously played them quite recently in Tokyo and bringing the world’s number one team over here is a big thing for the Australian public to come out and watch. It’s always a competitive match. The girls will be buzzing.
“The USWNT are full of threats. They are all such good players. I wouldn’t be surprised though if some young players come in. We’ll see what they bring. It’s good preparation for the Asian Cup.”
“I’ve been back and forth to Orlando twice in three weeks, but I’m happy to be back now and get some preparation for the games.”
Asked about her immediate club football plans, van Egmond highlighted that she is keeping her options open at the present time.
“I’m here training for the game against the USA and then we’ll see what happens, but we have the Asian Cup in January. Depending on what happens there, we’ll see.”
Western Sydney Wanderers youngster Bryleeh Henry, who made her Australia debut in the recent games against Brazil in Parramatta was blown away by the prospect of playing in Sydney’s Olympic Stadium. “I think it will be amazing! Just looking at it now it’s humongous! With a crowd in, the atmosphere will be incredible.”
Sydney FC’s Jada Whyman has treasured memories of playing in the venue.”I’ve played here a couple of times and it’s just been amazing,” she told us. “I made my debut here, and so it has a very special place in my heart.”
“Growing up I saw a lot of the USWNT players as role models so to be playing at the same level as them is a big thing for me. I can’t wait!”