The Australian National Dictionary Centre named "Matildas" the word of the year in a nod to the soaring popularity of the women's football team.
The massive popularity of Australia's women's football team is one for the history books: "Matilda" has been named Australia's word of the year.
The football team, called the "Matildas" or Tillies for short, finished fourth at the Women’s Fifa World Cup in August. Their semi-final match against England was the most-watched TV program in Australia since 2001, reaching more than 11 million viewers. Their success swept the country, with Matildas on banners at pubs and living rooms.
The Australian National Dictionary Centre, based at the Australian National University, selects a word or expression that has gained prominence in the Australian landscape over the past 12 months. The Centre’s Director Dr Amanda Laugesen said this year’s choice was easy given the massive popularity of the team and the word’s long history in Australian English.
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She said it also reflects the growth of interest in women’s team sports. “From the 1880s, matilda was one of the names for a swag, a bag of possessions carried by an itinerant man looking for work. These days most people would only know this in relation to the song Waltzing Matilda,” Dr Laugesen said. “It’s only since the mid-1990s that the women’s soccer team has been called the Matildas, but after this year’s World Cup the word has once again cemented itself in the Australian lexicon."
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Women's Champions League: What you need to know
Barcelona and Lyon have shared the last eight UEFA Women’s Champions League titles, but will it be a different story this time around? And why will Alexandra Popp, Beth Mead and other big names miss out?
What is the format?
After a series of qualifiers in August and September, the four-group, 16-team group stage, first introduced in 2021, starts on Tuesday with German team Eintracht Frankfurt traveling to face Norwegians Rosengard in one of the two early kickoffs. Two sides will qualify from each group. From that point, two legged ties will decide who progresses right up to the final, a single match at the San Mames stadium, in Bilbao, on May 25 next year.
Who are the favorites?
Holders Barcelona, who provided several key players in Spain's World Cup triumph earlier this year, will again be expected to go all the way to a final in their own country. French side Lyon, who have won 6 of the last 8 titles will also be a threat, even if their standing has dipped slightly.
Beyond those two, Chelsea will be desperate to send off long-serving coach Emma Hayes with the only trophy that's eluded her. Bayern Munich, who must first navigate a tough group including Paris Saint-Germain and Roma, will also be keen to go beyond the semifinals for the first time in club history. The Bundesliga champions are unbeaten domestically this season and added experience and quality in the shape of Magdalena Eriksson and Pernille Harder in the summer.
The qualification format, which features two different ‘paths' (a champions path and a league path for those who didn't win their domestic title) means several big clubs fall short of the group stage. Last year's beaten finalists Wolfsburg were one of the biggest casualties, after a shock elimination at the hands of Paris FC in the second round.
English sides Arsenal and Manchester United will also be forced to watch from the sidelines after defeats to Paris FC (round one) and Paris-Saint Germain, respectively.
Why is there controversy?
Those absentees have complained about the format, which means that more national champions from smaller federations feature on the big stage at the cost of clashes between the elite teams. In the aftermath of his side's exit, Manchester United coach Marc Skinner let loose: "It's crazy that we have to play PSG in this qualifying round, crazy," he said. "It needs to be something that is addressed. Having said that, we will learn from it. We'll come back stronger. We got a taste of it."
Though Skinner later backtracked somewhat, saying that he meant to suggest there should be "more teams in this competition," PSG midfielder Jackie Groenen also raised an eyebrow. "I think it is a bit strange — big teams going out in the pre-phase," she told the BBC. "I wonder if it's the right way to go."
Though Hayes' Chelsea were one of just four sides to qualify directly (the others were Barcelona, Lyon and Bayern), they have suffered early exits before. "We had to earn that [improvement], over three years,” she said. "Much like how Paris FC had to earn [their group stage entry this year], or whomever for that matter. So, I think we have to respect the format, it's important to say that, we all knew what it was.”
Who are the players to watch?
Ballon d'Or winner Aitana Bonmati is now the key figure at Barcelona and will surely be an orchestrating force once again. Lyon have added one of the World Cup's breakout stars, Haiti's Melchie Dumornay, to a stellar squad that includes the competition's all time top scorer Ada Hegerberg.
Away from the two sides that have dominated the competition, PSG's loan capture of Tabitha Chawinga boosts their goalscoring threat; Lauren James will be looking to build on a promising World Cup with Chelsea; Harder will hope to stay fit in order to add an attacking spark to Bayern; and teenage sensation Linda Caicedo will be key for Real Madrid.
Author Matt Pearson
Edited by: James Thorogood
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