Australia, it's time to get behind your girls

by Sebastian Hassett on Jun 16, 2011

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In the life of a sports journalist, the amount of stories you do on women's sport would constitute less than five per cent of your job. Some may even say that figure is optimistic, such is the global editorial regard for the fairer sex on the sports field.

It's a depressing reality that even in these enlightened times, women get a raw deal when it comes to press coverage - whether it be in print, television, radio or online. It just doesn't get anywhere near the same volume as the men's equivalent sport, perhaps with the exception of tennis and some Olympic events.

That's why I've been delighted in the past few weeks to immerse myself in the women's football scene and to follow all that is happening with the Matildas. It's been a rare opportunity to do so and I'm thankful to my employers - and the FFA - who have allowed me to spend time getting to know the players and coaches.

There are some cold hard facts about women's sport that even lifetime advocates cannot ignore, but that doesn't mean we should be held to ransom by them. I don't see women's sport as an 'issue' but as an opportunity. And if you've heard that line trotted out before - I know I have - then it's clear the message still needs to be heeded.

News - More men are interested in the Women's World Cup than women

The great thing about the football community in this country is that we are a very mobile lot. While some things may divide us on the surface, our passion for seeing our national teams succeed, and play well, is universal. We've never taken short cuts when it comes to supporting the green and gold.

I really hope that the public, especially you, the football public, uses the next two months to throw your support behind the Matildas. And not just in a token manner, either. Talk about them. Post things on Facebook and Twitter about their progress.

Discuss whether Ellyse Perry can keep playing football AND cricket; likewise whether Lisa De Vanna should be in the team. Should Sam Kerr start? I was mesmerised watching her dance along the sideline with a ball at her feet in the recent friendly win over New Zealand. Was Leah Blayney hard done by to miss the squad, despite being one of only two Australians to be a full-time pro in the US? How will the team cope without three injured/recovering stars, Kate Gill, Thea Slatyer and Sarah Walsh?
How about the kids? Three 17-year olds and a 16-year old - are they old enough? Having seen Caitlin Foord first-hand, the youngest girl at the tournament, I can't wait to see her in Germany. She might even start. What a story.

More - Read a full Matildas World Cup preview in ITYS

So many questions. So much to discuss. But most of all, so much to be proud about. Coach Tom Sermanni and his assistant Spencer Prior have done a sensational job of preparing their players for a tilt at the big time.

I can't wait to watch them play against Brazil in the opening match on June 29. I know they'll be putting their best foot forward, and like the Socceroos in the same country five years ago, I think they can make a huge impact.

Australia, it's time to get behind your girls.