MatildasvFrance-4287 Ann Odong Football Australia 2023

A National Treasure of Australia and our local Western Australian footballing hero. ‘Sam’ hails from the coastal town of Fremantle in the state’s capital of Perth. Early football was played with Western Knights (2006-2008), NTC (National Training Centre) and Perth Glory (2008-2011), Her playing accolades outweigh any Australian footballer and include Australia’s leading international goal scorer (across the men’s and women’s game), five nominations for the Ballon d’Or (finishing second in 2023 to the Spanish player Aitana Bonmatí – the best player at the 2023 WWC), two AFC Women’s Player of the Year awards, Golden Boots across the A-League Women, United States’ National Women’s Soccer League (NWSL) and England’s Women’s Super League (WSL). Kerr became the highest paid fully professional Australian womens player when she signed for Chelsea in 2019, leaving Chicago Red Stars in the NWSL. Kerr has represented Australia since 2009 when she debuted at the age of 15 and is the current Australian Captain. The Matildas reached the Semi Finals of the 2023 WWC in Australia with Kerr scoring one of the goals of the tournament in their 3-1 semi final loss to England in Sydney at Stadium Australia. Kerr is been awarded an Order of Australia Medal, has been the Young Australian of the Year and an icon for Australian football and the Matildas. Kerr returned to her home town of Perth in October 2023, post WWC (where the Matildas did not play any matches in Perth in the joint AUSNZ WWC tournament) and where she captained the Matildas to a successful Asian Olympic Qualifying Round 2 with Iran, Philippines and Chinese Taipei in Group A. There were more Matildas shirts sold pre WWC than the Socceroos sold throughout their entire Men’s World Cup campaign in 2022, giving recognition to the popularity and rise of women’s football in Australia and globally. Sam Kerr has been the face of women’s football in Australia in the lead up to the 2023 WWC and has added to the profile, recognition and growth of the game. In October, the State Football Centre was officially opened and named the Sam Kerr State Football Centre.

Article co written by Penny Tanner and Ann Odong, Football Australia, 2023