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Madonna King: Matildamania … and Australia will never be the same

Australia must remember this moment and nurture it, writes Madonna King.

Australia must remember this moment and nurture it, writes Madonna King. Photo: Getty

Paul McCartney’s Got Back Tour to Australia later this year kicks off in Adelaide; the city where The Beatles first played on their inaugural 1964 visit to Australia.

1964. Almost 60 years ago, and those who weren’t even born during that first tour are setting their alarms to nab a ticket in Adelaide, his first stop, or at other venues around the nation, including two regional stops for the first time – Newcastle and the Gold Coast.

Commentators then, and now, have put The Beatles’ phenomenal success down to more than their music.

Their timing was perfect – teens are looking for something different; something they felt belonged to them too.

Chaos followed their every Australian move, from the moment they touched down in Darwin at 2.35am on June 11, 1964.

Haircuts changed. Yeah! Yeah! Yeah! Popular culture turned on its head. Schools threw their hands up, unable to rein in an excitement that crossed generations.

The rest is history.

Could the Matildas emulate that same success, even at a muted level? Or are we too fickle now, needing to latch onto the new TikTok trend or bright shiny thing we hadn’t heard of before?

And will that mean the Matildas become a fabulous moment in time, but that’s all? We’ll Let It Be and move on?

Or could their fabulous FIFA Women’s World Cup performance mean we Come Together to ensure this is the start of something so much bigger?

Matildas captain Sam Kerr reflects on what might have been in Sydney on Wednesday night.

Ask event planners, or baby boomers or those turning up to work in the wake of Thursday night’s heartache and the views are mixed.

Something special

But there’s a glimmer of hope, and something particularly special about Sam Kerr’s angels.

At a country pub in Queensland on Wednesday night, drinks were finished early. The locals, all male and climbing in years, wanted to be home to watch the ‘girls’ on television.

In a news broadcast, a quick vox pop was taken of young boys, all soccer players, yet to climb into that teenage tunnel. Who do you want to be? And those young boys wanted to be Sam Kerr.

Imagine the power of that, in classrooms across the nation today. Young male sports fans looking up to a female athlete. Retired gents leaving the pub to watch a female football game. The line at the stadium busier to buy merchandise than to buy a drink.

This is a special moment in our history we have to savour and enjoy – and nurture.

Did you know that Australia actually won the Netball World Cup for the 12th time, beating England in the Cape Town final this month?

Perhaps that was because it was not played out in front of us, at venues where we can line up and be part of the atmosphere.

Or perhaps there’s something special about Sam Kerr and Mary Fowler and Caitlin Foord. Hayley Raso and Cortnee Vine and Katrina Gorry. Steph Catley, Ellie Carpenter, Mackenzie Arnold, and the rest of them.

But can the experience we’re having during the Women’s World Cup beat the instant gratification that will have us chasing another rainbow, probably online, after Sunday night’s final between England and Spain?

Will we forget the togetherness that the Matildas and their fabulous brand of teamwork have created? Will we go looking for new heroes? New pots of gold?

Or will we build on this time, follow their careers into the future and lobby our politicians – quick to grandstand on public holidays – to fund football in Australia properly?

Paul McCartney might be as big a household name, even in a world where we live online. Or he and the Beatles might have fallen victim to our need for speed; our need to move on. And on. And on.

But we’ve got the chance, now, to create a real and long-term change on the back of a team we should remember forever, not just file away as a moment from Yesterday.

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