Sam Kerr earned a top honour, while the Matildas scooped another award as “game-changers, boundary-breakers and joy-makers” were celebrated at the 2023 Marie Claire Women of the Year Awards.
Superstar Matildas captain Kerr was named ‘The Icon’ – a woman whose illustrious career and talents have immortalised her name for generations to come – at the awards ceremony in Sydney on Tuesday night.
The Matildas also earned ‘Champions of the Year’ – celebrating a woman who has reached new heights this year in sport – on the back of their historic FIFA Women’s World Cup on home soil.
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Kerr, who won a fourth straight Women’s Super League (WSL) title with Chelsea in 2022-23 before overcoming a calf injury to help Australia reach the semi-finals of the World Cup, was runner-up in this year’s Ballon d’Or Feminin.
The A-Leagues legend scored a stunning long-range goal in the final-four loss to England.
“We obviously went into the World Cup not wanting to come fourth – we would have loved to have gone further,” Kerr told Marie Claire as the Matildas prepare for a pair of international friendlies against Canada. “But what we created off the pitch was even bigger.
“We’ve just had a chance to come back to Australia and play the Olympic qualifiers in Perth, and to see sell-out crowds in my home town was epic.”
Kerr, who claimed the UK Football Writers’ Association Women’s Footballer of the Year award for the second consecutive season, added: “Playing to packed stadiums around the country, in front of family and friends, while having the whole country support and get behind us was the highlight of 2023 for me.
“It was a surreal time and something I will remember for the rest of my life.”
Before this year’s World Cup in Australia and New Zealand, the Matildas had never progressed beyond the quarter-finals (2007, 2011 and 2015).
But Tony Gustavsson’s side made history Down Under as they finished fourth at the showpiece tournament, shattering crowd records and TV ratings.
“I get goosebumps just thinking about it,” Mary Fowler told Marie Claire. “When I think about it now, it feels like a dream. That moment was such an adrenaline rush.”
She added: “It’s hard to put into words the legacy we’ve left behind.
“I think it’s really special that we can get recognised as a team for the work we did and the journey we’ve had together.”
Fowler continued: “It’s amazing already to see the growth there’s been. I’ve come in at the perfect time when there’s so much opportunity.
“My hope for the future, for a lot of young girls starting out now, is for them to have as much opportunity as I’ve had, or even more. That’s what we’ve all worked towards and what so many female footballers before me have worked so hard for.”