Impetus’ Ben Gilby, who has followed Sam Kerr‘s career from the early days in Western Australia, heard the striker give her views on receiving this honour overnight and profiles her career from those early days (26/1/22).
Matildas captain and national record goalscorer Sam Kerr was been awarded the Order of Australia overnight.
Kerr, recognised as one of the world’s greatest footballers spoke about her huge pride in receiving recognition for her services to football.
“It’s one of the biggest achievements for me. It’s an amazing honour. You never know who is watching. I’ve always been myself and gone about how I believe football and women’s sport should be broadcast. That’s made people feel comfortable and brought people in to do what they want to do and giving people confidence to do so.
“It’s an amazing honour that Australia has recognized what I have done and what the Matildas have done because, to be honest, I don’t see this as an individual award because I’ve had so many teammates and coaches help me along this journey. Who would have thought someone with the Matildas would receive this?”
When asked what remains on her bucket list to achieve, Kerr revealed that she is nowhere near finished yet.
“There’s so much more I want to achieve. I want to win trophies with the Matildas and my club (Chelsea), but I want to continue to help grow the game and I want to reach different people in different walks of life in Australia. There are so many communities who don’t have the resources to have young girls and boys growing up playing sport, so I’d love to do that.
“Even in Asia, being here in India at the moment, I’ve loved seeing the growth and how interested people are here in women’s sport. I’d love to tap into my Indian heritage and help Asian women and girls grow up, but in Australia, getting more pathways for girls and boys in football.”
The striker reminisced about her Asia Cup experiences over the years, as she now has the status of the player that so many at the competition look up to.
“I remember my first Asia Cup (in 2010 at the age of 16) and I was like ‘Wow! I can’t believe I’m on the same pitch as these players’, so being on the other side of that now is an amazing thing that I’m really proud of. I’ve tried to make as much effort in a COVID safe way with the young girls (on opposing teams) that I can this tournament because I know what it meant to me back then, so I’ve been trying to give my time to everyone here to inspire the next generation.”
Speaking on a broader perspective about recognition for females, Kerr was blunt. “It’s important that females get recognition. We’re getting more and more, but we have to keep breaking down barriers. We need to give people belief and give females that confidence to do what they love and what they are passionate about and do it with conviction.
“For so long people haven’t been recognized in female sport, so we need to break down those barriers and hopefully there are many more females to be recognized for the work that they do.”
Born in East Fremantle from a sporting family, Kerr’s first club, at the age of 12 was Western Knights, based in Mosman Park just three miles from her home.
Within three years, Sam had attended trials for Western Australia’s state team and then moved across to Perth Glory, the state’s sole W-League (now A-League Women) side. Making her debut at the age of 15, she was named as the league’s Player’s Player of the Year in 2009 – an incredible statistic. Her stay at the Glory lasted until 2012 when she joined Sydney FC. Thirteen goals in twenty-four games was her return.
In the same period, due to the way the Australian and American seasons are scheduled, Kerr played for Western New York Flash for the first NWSL season in 2013 and made it all the way to the Grand Final where they lost to Portland Thorns.
The striker returned to home club Perth Glory who she represented in the W-League from 2014-19 in between spells in America. Back in the purple and orange of her local senior side, Kerr led the Glory to two W-League Grand Finals and won the Julie Dolan Medal as the best player in the W-League twice.
Kerr was in incredible form for the Western Australians, scoring a total of 52 goals in 49 games. In this period the East Fremantle-born star spent two seasons with Sky Blue FC in the NWSL and in 2017, at the age of just 23 became the all-time top scorer in NWSL history. The same season saw her winning the NWSL Golden Boot and Most Valuable Player Award.
Kerr spent the 2018 and 2019 NWSL seasons with Chicago Red Stars, for whom she played in the Championship game. Her American adventure ended with the honour of being the first player to be named as the NWSL’s Most Valuable Player twice, and top scorer three times.
In November 2019, to great media fanfare, Kerr announced that she would join Chelsea in the FA Women’s Super League, and she made her debut in January 2020 and was part of the team that won the Conti Cup and FAWSL title. The Western Australian has subsequently won the FAWSL title and Conti Cup again along with the FA Cup and FA Community Shield along with an appearance in the UEFA Women’s Champions League Final.
Football Australia Chief Executive Officer, James Johnson, congratulated Kerr and acknowledged the contribution she has made to Australian football.
“The Australian football community has always been incredibly proud of the exploits and leadership of Sam and now she has received formal recognition that is richly deserved,” Johnson said. “I warmly congratulate her on yet another accolade that cements the pride Australians have in Sam and the Matildas.”
“Australian football continues to grow and that is in large part due to the rise of women’s football in the past decade. The Matildas have evolved into a truly iconic Australia team and Sam, now as captain of the team and Australia’s greatest goal-scorer, has played her part in that transformation.
“Importantly, Sam and her teammates have demonstrated how their actions on the pitch can have a positive societal impact off the pitch, transforming the perception of women in sport with their championing of gender equality.”