Mighty Matildas

01 August 2023

By leave: Although we had three speakers of the female gender, the fantastic motion moved by the member for Granville has full support from both genders in the Government caucus, so I wanted to make a short contribution. The country is in the grip of football fever—not women's football fever, but football fever. The evidence is there right across the board. We have seen record merchandise sales of shirts and scarves, and I have seen a report that jersey sales are outstripping the men's jersey sales from last year's World Cup, which is a fantastic achievement. The ratings have been through the roof; we saw it again last night. We have had record crowds, including the 78,000 that were at Homebush a couple of Thursdays ago. I had the immense privilege and pleasure to be amongst those 78,000, together with my entire family. Normally, football is a male affair in the Hagarty household—it is me and my son who usually trudge out to the games. But I was very pleased to see my wife and my daughter at the game, my daughter wearing her Matildas jersey.

I can confirm that football fever has also gripped Leppington. We have had two live sites for all the Matildas games. Southern Districts has put up a big screen at Cirillo Reserve in Middleton Grange. For those who know the area, Cirillo Reserve is the home of women's football in south-west Sydney. It is a dedicated premium facility for women's football, and most days of the week and on the weekend you will see women footballers of all ages training and playing. It is a fantastic facility and I commend both the Federal Government, Southern Districts and council for doing the work on that facility. I can also confirm that Eschol Park Football Club has been hosting a live site down its way. Both of those venues have been getting hundreds of people for each of the Matildas games. I went out last Thursday and I think I jinxed it because we lost to Nigeria. I did not return last night and, lo and behold, we won. So I will not be going to Cirillo; it is my fault.

When I meet with local football clubs in my part of the world, they report that they have seen a large increase in junior numbers, and a lot of that is due to growth in the girls' game. Numbers in girls' football are going through the roof. No doubt we will see it continue to grow after the World Cup. We know that Australians love their sport. There are many great chapters in our sporting history, and I think we are on the cusp of another one. I will be cheering home the Matildas in their games between now and the final, and I wish them all the best. Let us hope they bring it home for us so that we can come back into this place with our green and gold on. Go the Matildas!