From Julie Dolan, the first captain, to Cheryl Salisbury, the longest serving captain, to Sam Kerr, the current captain, the Westfield Matildas have been led by some extraordinary women over the course of their history.
On International Women’s Day, we look back at the women who have donned the green, gold, and captain’s armband during some of the national team’s most important and memorable moments.
She wasn’t captain for long but she will always go down in the history books as the first captain – and first cap – of the Australian women’s national team. Leading out her side at Seymour Shaw Park in Sydney’s south, Julie Dolan was 18 during that very first ‘A’ international against New Zealand.
In the first decade of the Westfield Matildas existence, Sue Monteath wore the armband and would captain the side in 13 ‘A’ internationals. This included the team’s debuts at the Oceania Cup in the mid-80s and the 1987 World Invitation Tournament in Taipei.
The second half of the 1990s saw Julie Murray assume the captaincy. The attacking minded player led the team out at the Westfield Matildas’ FIFA Women’s World Cup debut in Sweden in 1995 – the first tournament that saw the team adopt the ‘Matildas’ nickname – and in the following World Cup in the USA in 1999.
Alison Forman holds special honours at club and country level. One of the first Australians to feature in a UEFA Women’s Champions League final, Forman also had the distinct honour of leading Australia out at stadiums around the country during the Sydney 2000 Olympics.
For many, Cheryl Salisbury is the name most associated with the words ‘Matildas captain'. And with good reason. Salisbury is the longest serving captain with 73 ‘A’ internationals.
She lead the team through the 2004 Athens Olympics and the 2007 FIFA Women’s World Cup in China. There, the team earned their first ever win at the tournament and progressed through to the quarter finals for the very first time. Salisbury is the only woman footballer to be inducted into Sport Australia Hall of Fame.
At the start of the 2010s, Melissa Barbieri donned the gloves and the captain’s armband for the Westfield Matildas. She was the leader of the team when they won their historic first AFC Asian Women’s Cup on that rainy night in Chengdu. She also led the team at the 2011 FIFA Women’s World Cup in Germany.
More recently, fans will remember co-captains Clare Polkinghorne and Lisa De Vanna, Emily van Egmond, and Elise Kellond-Knight all taking their turns with the armband before Sam Kerr was appointed ahead of the 2019 FIFA Women’s World Cup in France.
Each of these women is a fantastic leader in their own right and will forever be etched into the history of the team.