So much has been written about the Matilda’s performances over the past weeks, I forgive you for feeling somewhat swamped by another piece. The game with France attracted 4.9 million spectators plus thousands more at various fan sites. The match against England drew 11.5 million viewers online. The eyes of the nation have been on these 23 athletes and their character has not disappointed.
Despite losing to England, the Matildas will either be the 3rd of 4th best team in the worldwide competition. This is the greatest World Cup outcome for either men or women’s teams. This run for the championship has captured the hearts and minds of our nation. Boys and girls have witnessed sporting skill, athleticism and positive attitude at the highest level.
I am in no way a football commentator and freely acknowledge my recent boarding of the ‘Matilda Bandwagon’. I feel no shame in this because the members of this team have shown such great character both on and off the field. They deserve the attention because their positive character has shone in both victory and defeat. As their World Cup journey was being reported, I could not help but see how our school’s attributes aligned so closely with what was being applauded through the media.
Here are just a few examples:
Collaborate and communicate
While Sam Kerr’s absence in earlier games due to injury would have caused great concern, it did mean that other members of the team needed to step up and work together to overcome this set back. In the absence of relying on a just one exceptionally skilled player, the team relied even more on one another.
Serve and lead for the benefit of others
This attitude of teamwork rather than individualism could not be more clearly illustrated than by Courtnee Vine when she was cut from her spot in Australia’s starting side against France. While it would be normal to be disappointed, and some may respond harshly, Courtnee’s response was to support the team “I’m just happy to do whatever I can for the squad, . . . Whatever part that is, whether that’s starting or coming off the bench and closing out a game, I am just so happy to be part of this squad and this team, and what we’re doing for football in Australia and the world.” Little did Courtney realise how significant her role would be, in closing out the game with the winning penalty shot.
Show respect and compassion
Legions of boys and girls have watched the Matildas play hard. Respect was shown though fierce competition through clean play. They also saw how team members comforted each other and showed care and compassion for players from both their own and from opposing teams. We all witnessed the hugs, tears, laughter and sorrow. This great contrast to the ‘win at all costs’ attitude of some sports people gives me great hope for our boys and girls. Respect and compassion has sadly been absent too often in competition at all levels. Selfish or harmful responses are not uncommon in sport, however, what we have witnessed speaks to the values and integrity of this attribute. This competition has been a real opportunity for boys and girls to see that strong and skilful athletes can also show respect through care for others, even for their opponents.
Make wise and courageous choices
Almost no one likes penalty shoot outs. After 2 hours of game time, to line up physically and emotionally tired players, to step up one by one and face off the goalkeeper to decide the winner, is an exhausting prospect. What stunned me was the manner in with Australia’s goal keeper Mackenzie Arnold, despite unsuccessful in her shot, immediately resumed her position to defend against the next French shot. Despite experiencing failure, she moved onto the next challenge without missing a beat. This is example of resilience was a masterclass in resilience. So often setbacks discourage and distract us, however, this example of perseverance and focus shows us ‘how it is done’.
It is my hope that our students will not only be motivated by the match play and recall the tension and excitement of the games but there will be a long lasting personal benefit (sports lover or not). The excitement will fade over time and become great memories. My hope is that the attributes that the Matildas have displayed, will be played out in the lives of all our students, each and every day for years to come. These are the attributes we seek for our students in their everyday lives both at school and as they grow to adulthood.
Mr Keith McMullen
Our brave, quirky, gentle, and funny Emily So passed away aged 5 on 24 May 2022, just seven months after being diagnosed with an aggressive and incurable brain tumour called Diffuse Intrinsic Pontine Glioma (DIPG). Emily was in kindergarten at WCCS in 2022.Around 20 children are diagnosed with DIPG in Australia every year, with most given just nine to 12 months to live. Despite DIPG being such a deadly and aggressive tumour, treatment options for children haven’t changed in more than half a century (since before man walked on the moon). The only established treatment is radiotherapy, which can only extend life by a matter of months. The prognosis is so bleak, parents are simply told to ‘go make memories.’
This tragic outcome for families and children, like Emily, won’t change unless there is a medical breakthrough. That’s why we’re getting behind a new Australian clinical trial by leading Professor David Ziegler from the Children’s Cancer Institute. The trial is showing real promise using CAR-T cell therapy, which involves modifying a child’s own immune cells in a laboratory to (hopefully) teach them to fight the tumour. But this type of cutting-edge research relies heavily on the fundraising efforts of families, friends, and the community.The ‘Ride for Em’ is one way we can honour Emily’s life, and raise money for this vital clinical research. Our hope is that one day, curative treatments for DIPG will finally become available so that other families don’t have to endure what ours did. DIPG is often called the “Mt Everest of cancers” but it’s our hope that we will one day overcome the mountain and make a real difference to other children and their families. Last year, the inaugural ‘Ride for Em’ raised almost $50,000. This year, we’re aiming to double that figure and reach $100,000.
Your support is appreciated as we join together to make a difference in the lives of children diagnosed with DIPG both now and in the future.
Mother of Emily So