Sam Kerr, the pioneering star of women’s soccer in Australia

The captain of Australia (121 caps), the first big name in the discipline in his country, will be one of the players to watch when the Matildas take to the field against Ireland on Thursday.

Minutes before the start of the Australia-France friendly in Melbourne on 14 July, it was his name that received by far the loudest applause. The Australian captain, Sam Kerr, has become the emblematic player of the Matildas selection. The first world star of modern Australian women’s football, the Chelsea player carries on her shoulders the hopes of an entire country that will experience the World Cup on her land, and begins her adventure on Thursday 20 July against Ireland.

Sam Kerr is an icon for all of Australia, primarily for his sporting exploits. At 29, the Fremantle East (on the country’s west coast) native’s career speaks for itself. After making her professional debut in club and selection at just 15, she established herself in the United States, in New York, New Jersey, Chicago, then in England, in Chelsea, where she put down her bags in 2019. “She is recognized for her athletic qualities, for what she does on the pitch and for her successes”explains Angela Christian-Wilkes, writer specializing in Australian women’s football.

First female face of the Fifa video game

For fifteen years, Sam Kerr has won titles (one American regular season title, one Australian championship, four English championships) and records (Australian top scorer in history). “I think she’s the first big star scored and recognized in our modern age. It’s amazing to see her evolution and the way she’s transformed football around her.”, assures the journalist. A true generational talent, she was chosen, in 2022, by EA Sports to be the first player to appear on the global cover of the next Fifa (now EA Sports) video game, notably alongside Kylian Mbappé.

But in his own country, Sam Kerr’s aura goes beyond his discipline. For his compatriots, he is a cultural standard-bearer and an indicator of the company’s identity. Many people identify with her. “She has a really good sense of humour, there is a video here that has gone viral of her, during a Champions League match with Chelsea, nudging a spectator who has come to invade the pitch and filming herself. Everyone was saying: ‘She is definitely a girl from our country!’

“Almost all Australians know his name, even if they don’t follow football. It’s definitely a name that speaks volumes.”

Angela Christian Wilkes

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A symbol of her influence, in May 2023, Sam Kerr was chosen to carry the flag of Prime Minister Anthony Albanese’s Australian delegation at the coronation ceremony of Charles III at Westminster Abbey. “It was great to see an Australian footballer there.rejoices Angela Christian-Wilkes. While there are sometimes bizarre feelings about ties to the British monarchy, this occasion was celebrated hugely in Australia, in a very positive way.

Sam Kerr carries the Australian flag at the coronation of Charles III in London, May 6, 2023. (SIPA)

The Matildas captain is now looking forward to leading her group to the most beautiful trophy in Australian national football, for the first World Cup in history played (partially) in Oceania. It’s the chance of a lifetime to play a World Cup at home.”he confided on the FIFA website. Her form and explosiveness on the pitch will determine the Australians’ results. “It brings successes and failuressums up the reporter. She’s a fantastic player, she almost wins matches by herself when she’s fit. She has that kind of star power.”

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