The ParaMatildas faced the United States on Wednesday in the inaugural IFCPF Women's World Cup Final. They finished the competition as silver medalists.
The ParaMatildas, Australia's national football team for women and girls with Cerebral Palsy, symptoms of stroke and Acquired Brain injury, were defeated 4-2 by the United States in the first IFCPF Women's World Cup final.
ParaMatildas World Cup Campaign
- The ParaMatildas faced the United States in the inaugural IFCPF Women's World Cup final.
- The Americans won the match 4-2 to claim the first IFCPF World title.
- The side is Australia's national football team for women and girls with Cerebral Palsy, symptoms of stroke and Acquired Brain injury.
More Matildas and ParaMatildas news can be found on The Women's Game.
It is a rare event where one gets to take part in history. That is exactly what the ParaMatildas did this past week. The Australian women took part in the first ever IFCPF (International Federation of Cerebral Palsy) Women's World Cup.
The tournament was held in Salou, Spain, and saw Australia, Japan, the Netherlands, Spain and the United States compete.
Ten Australian women were named to the competition's World Cup squad: Holly Sanders (GK), Nicole Christodoulou, Tahlia Blanshard, Charlize Tran, Lainee Harrison, Katelyn Smith (GK), Eloise Northam, Matildas Mason, Rae Anderson and Georgia Beikoff.
The ParaMatildas opened their World Cup campaign with a 12-0 win against the Dutch. They followed this up with a 4-0 win against Japan and an 11-0 win against Spain. Their only defeat of the group stage was against the Americans, who won by a scoreline of 4-0.
The Aussies would get enough points though to secure a place in the finals where they would face the United States a second time. It would turn out to be a closely contested match.
Australia opened the scoring with an incredible near full pitch goal from Northam in the 22nd minute. Goalkeeper Smith would keep the 1-0 lead minutes later by supplying two goal line saves.
The Americans would equalize in the opening minutes of the second half. They then doubled their account a minute later. However, the Aussie women did not give up. A long ball by goalkeeper Smith was caught by the American goalie in the net equalizing 2-2.
The match pushed into extra time. In the second minute the USA's Connell capitalized on a saved deflection to make it 3-2. The Americans then doubled their lead in the second half with the final score finishing 4-2.
The ParaMatildas can be proud of their World Cup campaign, despite the loss to the giants of women's football. These women are the pioneers of a new era of inclusion in football, one that will hopefully continue to grow.
Speaking after the final, head coach Kelly Stirton emphasized the magnitude of the moment:
“It's been one of the best experiences of my life, my coaching life,” Stirton said.
“Today is probably the day where it's sort of sinking in a little bit, especially towards the final.
"I couldn't be prouder. It's probably one of the proudest moments in my life.”
On top of their collective silver medal, two ParaMatildas finished the tournament with individual accolades. Australian goalkeeper Katelyn Smith was awarded the competition's best goalkeeper award.
Smith's teammate Georgia Beikoff likewise received an award, getting the tournament's Golden Book for her incredible 13 goals scored in four matches. The hotshot striker spoke after the match of the opportunity this tournament provided.
“It's been really quite surreal,” Beikoff said.
“Just being here and having five nations and competing against each other, and even just playing against other women who have CP (cerebral palsy), who exactly like me, is a dream come true.”
“I'm really proud of the girls that they've just stepped up. I think this has been a really big learning curve for us and this is just the beginning.
"I'm really excited for the future.”
The ParaMatildas male counterparts, the ParaRoos likewise competed in the IFCPF World Cup last week. They lost both their group games against the USA and Iran.
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