Our female football stars on world stage
THIS weekend the Women's World Cup will kick off in France with the Matildas launching their campaign on Sunday, starting with Italy.
"Regardless of what happens, they're going to do us proud. Just to qualify is an amazing achievement,” Westlawn Tigers coach Jo Powell said.
The Matildas are proving time and time again they are a serious force to be reckoned with.
"This is probably the strongest line-up by far,” Powell said.
"Then they've got people like Lisa De Vanna who has been around for a while, who has that experience so they're definitely going into this competition with experienced players.”
Powell said she was thrilled to see major growth in women's sport since her time as a professional footballer in the 1990s.
"Back then we didn't get paid to play. It cost me $3000 a season to play because we had to fly everywhere, and our games certainly weren't televised,” she said.
"Now, on a weekend, I can turn on the television and watch women's rugby, women's AFL, women's cricket, women's soccer; it's just amazing that has become the norm.
"It's a long time coming but it was always going to happen.”
As the sport continues to grow, so do the opportunities in sponsorship and funding.
Powell said, with very little funding of games, women's sport was treated as a hobby.
"It had always been 'you go and have a job and you can train part-time' and people were wondering why things weren't happening for the game.
Now it's blooming,” she said.
"They've never had the capacity for women to be funded before so now the focus is on doing something they're good at.”
However, there are a few more hurdles to overcome in female football, like the campaign for equal pay.
For instance, if the Matildas win this year's game, they will receive half of what the Socceroos earned last year when they were knocked out of the Men's FIFA World Cup.
Fortunately, other sports are already paving the way.
This year the World Surf League finally closed the gender pay gap.
From now on all male and female surfers will be awarded the same prize money at all WSL events.
It might have taken four decades for them to achieve this goal, but this initiative not only acknowledges women in the sport but reinforces the legitimacy of their athleticism.
As such, Powell is confident women's soccer will get there in the end.
"I'm astounded by just how far women's football has come, and women's sport in general,” she said.
"It might take a few more years but I know they'll definitely get there.”