Women are undoubtedly the future of football

Mike Tuckerman Columnist

By , Mike Tuckerman is a Roar Expert

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    Instead of writing long-winded screeds about the state of the game, Football Federation Australia would be better off making the Matildas the new face of Australian football.

    First things first: congratulations to Alen Stajcic’s team for winning the Tournament of Nations in the United States.

    Watching our women’s national team in action has long been a rewarding experience, but few could have predicted their astonishing performances in the spiritual heartland of the women’s game.

    Three games played for three stunning victories, including a first ever win over arch-rivals the United States, and the coup de grace was undoubtedly Australia’s incredible 6-1 win over Brazil on Friday.

    Needing only a draw to win the tournament, the Matildas fell behind early to Camila’s side-footed strike, only to register six unanswered goals in what will surely go down as one of the greatest performances from an Australian team in the history of international football.

    Striker Sam Kerr finished the tournament’s top scorer with four goals, with the Matildas rattling home no less than 11 for the week as they positively exploded into form.

    The goal now is to try and win a World Cup, and you wouldn’t put it past the Matildas winning one long before the Socceroos do.

    It’s surprising, then, that the FFA hasn’t done more to lift the profile of the Matildas and the women’s game in general.

    But are they even capable of doing so?

    The surreal 2000-word missive emailed out by FFA chairman Steven Lowy on Saturday morning smacked of a governing body in full retreat.

    With a combined FIFA/AFC delegation set to touch down in Australia later this week, Lowy asked whether football in this country was about to “return to the bad old days of self-interest and suffer the inevitable results?”

    Steven Lowy and Peter Lowy

    One would have thought the self-interest was all Lowy’s – this is an executive who was parachuted into the top job in Australian football at least partly by virtue of being Frank Lowy’s son – and his remarks will have infuriated the ten A-League clubs all calling for a greater share in the revenue they help generate.

    The clubs, along with the Professional Footballers Australia association, are effectively engaged in a tit-for-tat war with FFA not only over revenue sharing, but also the lack of transparency in the game.

    FFA is perhaps fortunate that both Cricket Australia and the Australian Rugby Union have also been ensconced in ongoing industrial disputes, otherwise there’d be far more media interest in an increasingly bitter dispute that threatens to tear the fabric of the professional game apart.

    Most fans are sick of all the politicking and would rather just watch some football, so it’s a good thing the Matildas are back in action on home soil when they host Brazil in a couple of glamour friendlies in Penrith and Newcastle in September.

    As Dom Bossi wrote in an excellent piece in the Sydney Morning Herald on Saturday, it’s high time the Matildas were rewarded for their on-field heroics with some vastly improved commercial deals.

    Little wonder Sam Kerr has already been asked to switch to the AFLW – her brother is former West Coast midfielder Daniel Kerr – with the long-established W-League a direct threat to the AFL’s recently-launched women’s competition.

    There’s no doubt women’s football is one of the key growth areas of the game, so it’s incumbent upon FFA to ramp up the marketing and bring in the sort of sponsorship that will help develop the commercial side of the women’s game.

    That way, women footballers across Australia can dream of one day being paid just like any other professional player, instead of being forced to hold down multiple jobs purely to make ends meet.

    We’ve traditionally been slow to appreciate the value of women in our game – be it in the stands, behind the scenes or on the pitch.

    The Matildas have reminded us all of what we’ve been overlooking. And for that, they deserve our acclaim.

    Mike Tuckerman
    Mike Tuckerman

    Mike Tuckerman is a Sydney-born journalist and lifelong football fan. After lengthy stints watching the beautiful game in Germany and Japan, he settled in Brisbane, and has been a leading Roar football columnist from December 2008.