Showing all posts tagged: sport

Matildas social media followings skyrocket during World Cup

24 August 2023

Many members of the Australian women’s football team saw their social media followings jump exponentially as a result of the recent 2023 Women’s World Cup, according to data compiled by Australian football news and information portal Keepup.

Mary Fowler’s Instagram (IG) follower count soared by nearly 470% to — as of time of writing — about 281,000. Caitlin Foorde meanwhile saw her IG followers increase by 153% to about 208,000, while team captain Sam Kerr’s count doubled to over one and half million people.


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World Cup bronze medal slips through exhausted Matildas fingers

21 August 2023

The Matildas two nil loss to Sweden in the third-place playoff match in the 2023 FIFA Women’s World Cup, played at Brisbane Stadium, on Saturday 19 August, came not only as a disappointment, but also a surprise, to supporters of the Australian women’s football team.

Although the Matildas enjoyed their best ever World Cup tournament in 2023, in being placed fourth, many believed the team had a better an average chance of winning the playoff game for the 2023 bronze medal.

If perhaps Matildas head coach Tony Gustavsson had not been so intent on maintaining “continuity”, by refusing to change the team’s line-up throughout most of the World Cup, winning third place was indeed a distinct possibility. Yet of the twenty-three players in the full Matildas squad, only thirteen spent significant time on the field. And that might have been twelve, had Sam Kerr, the Matildas’ captain, not been sidelined for much of the competition with an injury. Of the remaining ten players in the Matildas squad, only a handful saw game minutes.

Samantha Lewis, football writer for ABC Sport, underlined the point, at half time during Saturday’s match, when the Blågult, Sweden’s women’s football team, were leading the game one nil:

The Matildas look tired. Not just physically but mentally: their passes have been off, their decisions half-a-second too slow, their challenges late and clumsy.

It’s a cliche, but Sweden look like they want this more, and the extra day of rest they’ve had over Australia is noticeable in terms of their reaction times and pressing speed.

Tony Gustavsson has been criticised towards the pointy-end of this tournament for not using his bench enough and relying on fatigued players to get the job done, but this feels like a game where he really needs to trust the fresh legs available to him if they want to get back into this and go home with a rose-gold medal.

While Sweden played their semi-final match a day earlier than Australia, I doubt the extra twenty-four hours rest alone made them the better team in Brisbane. Even though, like Australia, they did not change their semi-final line-up, either.

Gustavsson seems to have forgotten winning tournaments on the scale of a World Cup are a team effort. He should have drawn more from the wider Matildas’ squad, rather than constantly relying on the same core players. Playing six international games — from the first group stage match, to the third-place playoff — over the course of four weeks, with virtually no substitutions, is a big ask for any team, no matter how good. Gustavsson was therefore extremely fortunate there were no serious injuries (with the exception of Kerr) forcing him to ditch the team continuity he craved.

I’m surprised though someone as seasoned as Gustavsson didn’t recognise the need to rest players, and bring some “new legs”, to quote Samantha Lewis, onto the field. And not just prior to the third-place playoff either, but throughout the competition. Being sidelined, and deprived of the opportunity to shine, must have come as a blow to those in the Matildas’ squad who sat out the entire World Cup on the reserves bench.

Not only was the thinking unfortunate, but the “continuity policy” also represented, I think, a missed opportunity. Because great things could have come to pass.

And let’s not forget the home-field advantage, something the Matildas enjoyed as tournament co-hosts, and something that can work in favour of Australian athletes. The 2000 Sydney Olympics are an example, where Australia won a record fifty-eight medals, the nation’s best showing at a Summer Olympics to date.

A rejuvenated Matildas’ team, by way of a few substitutions, and with their supporters right there beside them, might have made all the difference on Saturday night.



Matildas: The World at Our Feet, a documentary about the Australian women’s soccer team

18 August 2023

The Matildas, the Australian women’s soccer (football) team, had a stellar run during the 2023 FIFA Women’s World Cup, hosted by Australia and New Zealand. While they didn’t make it to the final, their passion to succeed won them legions of new fans in Australia, and I dare say, further afield.

The Tillies, as they’re known to some followers, play one last match against Sweden on Saturday 19 August 2023, to determine who wins the 2023 tournament’s bronze medal. Whatever the outcome — whether they are placed third or fourth — 2023 will be Matildas’ best ever result in a World Cup.

If you’d like to learn more about the Matildas, its members, and their 2023 campaign, then the Disney produced documentary, Matildas: The World at Our Feet, trailer, comes highly recommended. I have it on good authority that a New Zealand sports lover became a Matildas fan after seeing this show.

What more can I say?


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The Booker Prize World Cup 2022

4 December 2022

If football/soccer isn’t your thing, but you love the thrill of elimination contests involving novels, you could always take a look at the Booker Prize World Cup:

We’ve selected, entirely arbitrarily, 16 winning books from the Booker Prize’s 53-year history, with each author representing a different footballing nation. In each case, the author is playing for their country of birth (which is more than you can say for the Qatar football team), and not necessarily the country with which they are best associated or where they live. We have drawn books against one another at random and in each ‘match’ — which will be posted on our Instagram and Twitter channels each day — we would like you to vote for the best book via a poll. The winning book will then progress to the next round. After the first round, there’ll be a quarter-final, semi-final and grand final.

The provision of each author playing for their country of birth is important, given South African born writer J.M. Coetzee, for example, has been an Australian citizen since 2006. Otherwise Peter Carey, with his 1988 novel Oscar and Lucinda, was Australia’s opening round representative.

While it could have been argued Australia was in with two chances, unfortunately as of the quarter final phase of the Booker Prize World Cup, both Carey and Coetzee had been eliminated. Such is life. Still, I’m waiting to see who wins. To take part, and support your favourite book, cast your vote via the Booker Prize Twitter or Instagram pages.


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The coin toss in cricket, should it change?

6 January 2022

Haris Aziz, Scientia Associate Professor at UNSW’s School of Computer Science and Engineering, has proposed a new way of managing the customary coin toss that precedes a cricket match. Presently the winner of the toss decides whether their team will bat or bowl first.

Depending on factors such as the state of the playing field, and anticipated weather conditions during the course of play — which can have an impact on the outcome of the game — the winner of the toss can have a substantial advantage.

Under this method, the toss takes place as normal, but instead of the winning captain choosing whether to bat or bowl first – and thus immediately gaining a potentially strong position – the losing captain would instead make a proposal. The losing captain would make his own determination on how many runs advantage he feels would be gained by batting first. For example, in a Test match, he may feel that a pitch that looks easy to bat on for the opening couple of days but might later produce turn, is effectively ‘worth’ an extra 100 runs to the team that bats first. To counter that advantage he then proposes an offer to the captain who won the toss, by way of a choice. Either bat first and give up 100 runs, or choose to bowl and take the 100 bonus runs for his own team.

I’d be interested to see this in action. In the meantime, in regards to the men’s cricket series currently in progress, well, anything that might for a slightly more even contest, I say.