by Ben Gilby (25/5/23)
Above: She’s coming home to play at last in WA – Matildas captain and local icon Sam Kerr. Photo: Football Australia.
It was confirmed today that for the first time in five years, Australia will play international football in Western Australia, the home state of the nation’s all-time top scorer Sam Kerr.
HBF Park, the home of Perth Glory, will stage all the matches in Group A qualifying of the second stage of the women’s Asian Qualifiers for the Paris Olympics Football tournament.
From 23rd October – 1st November 2023, Perth will be the location for Australia to take on some of Asia’s best nations in Chinese Taipei, FIFA Women’s World Cup-bound Philippines, and Iran in a round-robin tournament.
This year’s Asian Qualifiers will also be the first-ever competitive Matildas matches hosted in Western Australia. The state has a long history of producing Matildas from the earliest days, from the pioneering Sandra Brentnall and Tracey Wheeler to current squad members Sam Kerr and Lydia Williams.
Speaking about today’s news, Matildas’ captain and West Australian superstar, Sam Kerr, said: “Everyone knows how proud I am to be from Perth and WA so to be able to come home again with my teammates will be a really special moment. West Aussies are big sports lovers and some of the best fans in the world, they bring amazing support for the teams that they love, and I know they will give us that same energy as we start our Olympic qualification.”
Kerr’s most recent competitive football match in her home state came back in 2019 when she played the last of her 49 games for Perth Glory, a club she made her debut for in 2008 at the age of 15, the beginning of a period that saw her score 52 goals in the club’s purple and orange colours.
The star’s first club, at the age of 12 was Western Knights, based in Mosman Park just three miles from her home in East Fremantle. Within three years, the striker had attended trials for Western Australia’s state team and then moved across to Perth Glory. In two spells with the club, 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.
Whilst Kerr is a global superstar, she is an absolute living legend in Western Australia. Given the freedom of the city of Perth last year, she is the only soccer player, male or female, to have one of her shirts hung in the Western Australia Museum Boola Bardip along with the shirts of the state’s countless Australian Rules and cricket heroes. She also has a huge mural painted in her honour in her home city of Fremantle.
Speaking at the announcement today, Western Australia state Premier Mark McGowan said: “Sam Kerr is a global football superstar and truly a sporting icon – she’s an incredible role model for Western Australians and we can’t wait to welcome her back to her home ground.”
The Asian Qualifiers will see six matches played across three different match days with the Matildas commencing their qualification campaign against Iran on 26th October 2023. Three days later they will meet the Philippines, before concluding their group schedule against Chinese Taipei on 1st November.
Groups B and C will also complete their qualifiers during the same period with the three group winners and the best-ranked runners-up progressing to Round Three. This stage will take place on 24th and 28th February 2024 with the winners of the two home-and-away series bound for Paris.
The Paris 2024 Women’s Olympic Football Tournament will be held from 24th July to 10th August 2024 across France featuring 12 nations competing for the coveted Olympic Gold Medal.
Ticketing information for the matches in Perth, kick-off times and broadcast details will be confirmed in the coming weeks, The Matildas’ three matches will be broadcast on Network 10 and streamed live on Paramount+.
Ticketing information will be made available from the official Matildas website at www.matildas.com.au as well as www.ticketmaster.com.au