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Matildas: The Pioneers

The Matildas, the first Australian women's team, are pioneers of Australian women's sport.

The historic first Australian women's team was established in 1978 to take part in the first World Women's Invitational Tournament in Chinese Taipei. Australia was the only national team in the tournament with the other 12 countries represented by club or district teams.

Australia's squad for the 1978 tournament, selected by first Australian women's team coach Jim Selby, consisted of players mainly from NSW and Western Australia. Captain Connie Byrnes had the honour of captaining the first Australian senior national women’s team.

In the first round of matches Australia was missed sixth place only on goal difference. The Australians then competed in the second round for teams placed seventh to thirteenth, ultimately finishing eighth in the tournament.

Australia's results of the 1978 World Women's Invitational Tournament in Chinese Taipei: W1-0 v Austria, D1-1 v USA, L0-1 v Sweden, D0-0 v Denmark and W5-0 v Thailand. Young Australian Anna Senjuschenko (who tragically died in a car accident in 1979 aged 17) was voted a star player of the tournament by the media, while Connie Byrnes was awarded ‘Miss Football’ for Australia.

The women’s team played on sporadic occasions throughout the 1980s, with only a limited number of major international competitions enticing much attention to the team.

The introduction of the FIFA Women’s World Cup and women’s football at the Olympic Games in the 1990s, combined with a surge in participation levels throughout the country, sparked renewed interest in the national women’s team, now called the Westfield Matildas.

- Football Australia