Melissa Barbieri

Watch the Women

Melissa Barbieri
Watch the Women

Part 1

I debuted for Australia in 2002. I’ve played 86 times for my country, been to 1 Olympics, 4 world cups and I’ve captained Australia for 2 years. I was the captain of the Australia team that won the Asia Cup in 2010; the first decent piece of silverware for us. I’ve played for the Melbourne Victory, Newcastle Jets and Adelaide United in the Women’s League, captaining a few of those teams too.

Outside of the sporting world, I have a beautiful 4 year old daughter, named Holly. I had Holly at the start of 2013, before returning to the Australian team. I'm the first Australian player to go to the world cup as a mum. I work from home as a consultant in the health and well-being space, so I revolve my life around football, Holly and work.

Raising the importance of women in sport is one of the most important initiatives we should collectively be supporting.

I think it’s unfair that so many adults and children, male and female, don’t have the opportunity to have the role models that are out there because they don’t know about them. I had a male role model growing up; Michael Jordan. He was the only famous person that I could relate to at the time. Don’t get me wrong, he’s amazing, but I think it’s a real shame that we don’t have the opportunity to idolise women, and there are plenty of inspirational women out there. I feel as though our role model choices are quite limited, because half of the population isn’t represented very well. We must be getting better, because I have girls saying that I’m their role model. I have parents saying that their child idolises me.

I think we’ve got a long way to go. My face is out there, my name is out there. People call me the face of women’s football but it’s only been in the last few years that this has become more evident and I’ve been more present in the media and on social media. I think there are a whole heap of role models out there just waiting to be found. And I’m not just talking about women’s football either, I’m talking about all sporting codes. As a women’s footballer, I went to watch the girls play netball and thought “Wow, this team is amazing”. Even after I was so close to our own team and what we’re capable of I was met with an element of surprise. The more we get people out there to watch our game, in the flesh, it will only get better. I really hope we start doing a better job at raising the profile, for the sake of the youngsters and for our broader society.

Getting to the game live is so important. Families need to get out and about more in general. We’ve got our minds too focussed on technology. Live is just so much better than on TV; it’s fast-paced, dynamic and brilliant. Generally, it’s the fathers that drive the sporting agenda in our families (don’t get me wrong, I do see the mums out there too!) but if dad is out there driving it, the natural instinct is to go and watch the blokes play. Perhaps because that’s what they’ve been brought up with and that’s what they’re comfortable with. If any father wants their daughter to have good role models, women’s sport is a go-er. For the fathers that I’ve spoken to, what gets them to our game is that they want their daughters to have good role models…. but what keeps them coming back is the enjoyment of watching us play. It’s the perfect middle ground for a father / daughter outing. Our men don’t realise how important they are for this movement. 

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Matildas captain & Goal Keeper 2002-2015 MVFC 2015 ACL CLUB 2016
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