Sam Kerr's big announcement as Robbie Slater highlights brutal Matildas reality

Socceroos legend Robbie Slater has offered a sad reality check for the Matildas and football fans.

Robbie Slater and Sam Kerr.
Robbie Slater has offered a harsh reality check for Sam Kerr and the Matildas. Image: Fox Sports/Getty

Sam Kerr has announced the formation of a new academy after Robbie Slater offered a harsh reality check for football fans in Australia. The Matildas captivated the nation as they advanced to the semi-finals of the Women's World Cup - the best result for an Australian team at a men's or women's World Cup ever.

A sell-out final between England and Spain, and more bumper TV ratings capped the biggest and most successful Women's World Cup in history. A full house of 75,784 for the Spain-England final at Stadium Australia saw the tournament fall just short of two million attendees - bringing the end tally to 1,978,274 (an average of 30,911) per game.

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And the TV ratings were just as impressive. Sunday night's final reached 5.54 million people on Channel 7 alone and had an average audience of 3.08 million. That came after more than 11 million watched the Matildas' semi-final clash with England - surpassing the all-time record as the most-watched event since ratings began being tracked. A whopping total of 18.6 million people watched the tournament across all of Channel 7's platforms.

The frenzy that the World Cup created has renewed hope that football (or soccer) will finally take off in Australia and get the recognition and funding it deserves. Football is the most-played game in Australia at grassroots level, but doesn't get the same attention as other codes like NRL, AFL and cricket.

But speaking on 'The Back Page' on Tuesday night, Socceroos great Robbie Slater said nothing will change unless a lot more work is done. “It was a marvellous event. The whole thing, everyone played their part, and the Matildas brought so much joy to so many young players and young people who had never really been involved in the game, so fair play to them,” he said.

“But it’s not going to change the game in this country. “The game needs a lot of work.”

Matildas players, pictured here after their loss to Sweden in the third-place game at the Women's World Cup.

Robbie Slater highlights harsh reality for Australian football

After Candice Warner disagreed and said the Matildas had inspired new generations of young girls, Slater said: “I’ve talked so much on radio and so much media where people have said ‘this is going to change football in this country’ … I’ve been around as a player, I’ve been in media for far too long, I’ve heard it before.

“Whether it was Maradona in ‘93, whether it was us making the World Cup in 2006, John Aloisi’s penalty - it was a party. We’ve got to stop in this nation having a party for football, because when the party’s over, everybody goes home. All the politicians were there and all this and all that, and great, they’ve given a grant for women’s sport - I think that’s brilliant.

“But I’ll tell you what needs help, I would like some government money going to A-League Women’s for example. That’s where the Matildas were born. All those players came from A-League Women’s.”

Speaking last weekend, Prime Minister Anthony Albanese unveiled a $200 million boost for women's sport and an overhaul of broadcast rules, saying the Women's World Cup had "changed sport in Australia forever". The PM said the Matildas had given Australians "a moment of national inspiration" as he announced the funding for the Play Our Way program.

He also announced the appointment of an expert panel of former female athletes to help design the program, including Liz Ellis, Lauren Jackson, Madison de Rozario and Tal Karp. "This is an important announcement, so that women and girls everywhere in Australia can have the facilities and the support that they need to choose a sport that they love and to be able to participate," Mr Albanese said. "We are going to see an explosion in participation in sport, and that is why this $200 million will make a difference."

However some commentators have questioned why the initiative isn't targeted directly a football rather than women's sport overall. A number of Matildas players have previously called on the government to invest in the sport in Australia, while coach Tony Gystavsson declared: "I want to be very clear that I want to see investment now, I really do. I want to see investment. And I mean like a real investment that we're serious about what we're doing."

Sam Kerr announces new academy

On Wednesday, Matildas captain Sam Kerr announced the launch of 'Sam Kerr Football', which will see her open up a number of academies around the country. A press release said the program "will deliver a progressive and holistic football program that leverages the star’s knowledge and expertise while incorporating elements Kerr wished she’d had as an emerging footballer. Through the program, Kerr will share her journey in football development as well as the many touchpoints that have gone into her experience - from skill acquisition to areas such as health and well-being, mental skills such as resilience and core areas of development such as nutrition and recovery."

with AAP

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