Success on the pitch and their willingness to engage with fans are part of the reason why the Westfield Matildas are Australia’s favourite national sporting team.
That’s the opinion of midfielder Emily van Egmond after is was confirmed on Wednesday that the Westfield Matildas have been ranked Australia's most beloved national team in 2019.
Australia's national women's football team sit atop the BenchMark EC Ladder, a survey conducted by True North Research to gauge the emotional connection fans have with their teams.
Since making her debut for the Westfield Matildas in 2010, Van Egmond has seen the team’s popularity sky-rocket in recent years.
“It’s grown at a really fast rate. Obviously some individual success, on the back of Sammy Kerr and some of the other girls that have been doing really well for themselves. It’s been really pleasing to see as teammates but also as a team it’s helped our profile boost,” said van Egmond.
“And it’s also off the back of our success. The major tipping point for us was when we had the breakout year in 2017, especially when we went over and won the Tournament of nations.”
Over 50,000 fans came out to see the Matildas across five games in Australia in 2019 - located in Sydney, Brisbane, Melbourne and Adelaide.
This included a record-breaking 20,029 crowd on November 9 against Chile at Bankwest Stadium, which is officially the highest-ever attended women's international game on Australian soil.
Van Egmond, who plays for Melbourne City in the Westfield W-League, believes the uniqueness of the Westfield Matildas squad is another factor in what makes them so special.
“Whenever we’re in camp and we have community engagements or appearances the girls are happy to get out amongst it and meet people and give back to the supporters and community, especially whatever region we’re in at the time,” she said.
“Particularly around the women’s game we know we have to build the profile and the girls are second to none at that.
“The most important part is that success does the talking. If we can have some strong results on the pitch it’s only going to make our job easier off the pitch.
“It comes down to the girls being fully invested in that department of the game.
“We’ve all been in the team, a core group since a young age and seen the senior girls before us do their time and the least we can do now is give back to the next generation.”