Australia vs France, Women’s World Cup 2023 quarterfinal

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Australia fans inside Brisbane Stadium before the match between Australia and France on August 12, 2023. Dan Peled/Reuters

Less than a month ago, Australian cinemas were packed with Barbie fans wearing pink in honor of Margot Robbie, the local “Neighbours” actor turned Hollywood megastar.

Robbie’s girl power partnership with director Greta Gerwig proved a hit at the global box office and somehow made wearing cutesy shades of pink a statement of feminist strength.

But now, seemingly in the blink of an eye, the nation is all wearing green and gold for our newest heroes, Australia’s Women’s World Cup hopefuls, the Matildas.

Like Barbie, support for the Matildas was initially backed by a strategic marketing plan to introduce them to new audiences and tap into existing feelgood vibes and loyalties.

But in recent weeks, as they’ve fought to score goals against the best teams in the world, their grit, determination, and teamwork has elevated them into the stratosphere of Aussie culture. And unlike Barbie, these women are real.

The tremendous following for famous Chelsea forward Sam Kerr has broadened out to the rest of the team, and now several players unknown to the general public just a few weeks ago are household names: Mary Fowler, Caitlin Foord and Hayley Raso.

Tickets to the Matildas’ quarterfinals clash against France at Brisbane Stadium on Saturday have sold out and venues across the country are preparing for bumper crowds.

“We’re opening up the car park for the day,” said Jackie Schougaard, venue manager of The Alfred Hotel on Caxton Street, a few minutes’ walk from Brisbane Stadium.

“It’s like the Olympics, where everyone’s all of a sudden involved and experts in it,” said Schougaard. “Everyone’s got the odds on who’s going to win, and who’s the most likely first scorer, and everything like that. It’s just been unreal.”

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