Matildas players send pointed message to fans amid brutal World Cup reality

Sam Kerr, Steph Catley and co had a strong message for the Australian public.

Matildas star Hayley Raso devastated and Sam Kerr doing an interview.
The Matildas have called for more funding and support for the women's game after the World Cup success. (Getty Images)

The Matildas may have been knocked out of the World Cup after a 3-1 loss to England on Wednesday, but the players have used the opportunity to call for more funding in the women's game. Having reached their first World Cup semi-final, the Matildas carried the weight of the nation on their shoulders but couldn't stop the European champions from advancing after a thrilling contest.

Sam Kerr did her best to drag Australia level with the goal of the tournament in the second-half, but the Matildas eventually fell to the English onslaught in Sydney. While Kerr and co were devastated having missed out on the opportunity to reach a maiden finals birth, the players have used the spotlight to call for more funding in the women's game.

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The Matildas have shattered TV audience records during their historic run and while their journey for World Cup glory is over, Kerr called for the women's game to be treated with the respect it deserves. "We are there, we're right there," Kerr said after the devastation.

"I can only speak for the Matildas. We need funding in our development. We need funding in our grassroots. We need funding. We need funding everywhere.

"The comparison to other sports isn't really good enough. And hopefully this tournament changes that because that's the legacy you leave — not not what you do on the pitch. The legacy is what you do off the pitch. And hopefully, I mean, it's hard to talk about now, but hopefully that this is the start of something new."

Sam Kerr, Catilin Foord and Mary Fowler walk down the tunnel.

Steph Catley calls for change in women's game

Kerr wasn't alone. Vice-captain Steph Catley used the World Cup fanfare as an example that Australia is behind women's sport and reiterated the excitement was "just the beginning".

"When you look at football in general in Australia - football is very much not funded the way it should be," she said. "There's no argument now that people aren't interested. People are interested. The numbers are there. Kids are playing. People want to be watching the sport.

"So yeah, hopefully this has just been enough to prove that and to create the argument and to improve facilities, improve standards for women in football, football in general."

Catley's call was echoed by Emily van Egmond. "My message is that I hope that this is just the beginning and that they continue to support this team," she said. "Because like we see if you invest in women's football, you can see the growth of it and hopefully this is just the start."

Teammate Katrina Gorry was confident fans would continue to support the Matildas and women's football after the semi-final run. "It's been absolutely incredible to be on home soil for a World Cup," Gorry said. "The supporters that have been with us from day one and everyone else that has jumped on board to watch this beautiful game. The shift in Australian football has just been incredible.

"We've loved every minute of it. From getting off the plane to walking out of our hotel; Australia, we love you. I hope we've made you proud. There's still so much to go for. Don't jump off the bandwagon now, keep on coming and I'm sure we'll make you proud."

Australia's World Cup isn't over. The Matildas will play Sweden on Saturday in the third place playoff.

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