“Most of us [AFLW and soccer athletes] are friends because people have gone to AFL or soccer from other sports, so we all know each other somehow,” Kerr says. “It’s just awesome. I remember the Carlton game, the first ever AFLW game, being sold out and I was jealous. I was like ‘Gosh, we’ve been waiting for this to happen for years’ and the AFL just popped up a week ago and put on a women’s league and now they’ve got 20,000 people there. I was jealous.”
“So that’s what I mean [now] when [I say] we finally got that crowd there and changed the public [perception] on women’s football. It was an unreal experience and I think that’s a really cool thing about the Matildas – the public is really on our side. The positive vibe around the Matildas is something like we’ve never seen before in women’s sport.”
The confession comes as the 25-year-old sits down for an interview with former athlete Bob Murphy on the second season of Fox Footy’s Bob, delving into everything from family to the Matildas’ road to the World Cup. On how it feels to inspire so many people, both in Oz and worldwide?
“I’m pretty proud to be a role model,” Kerr says, later adding: “In the last year, the change in kids recognising the Matildas, kids recognising me, what kids send you in fan mail.
“When I was growing up, I didn’t have any female [sports] people that I could connect with … The only person I looked up to as a female athlete when I was a kid was Cathy Freeman … Now there’s cricket, there’s rugby, there’s basketball, there’s netball, there’s soccer, that young girls can look up to … Sport is a really safe place now for young girls growing up, whereas when I was a kid, I used to play with the boys and [it was] lucky I had short hair because they hated when they found out I was a girl. They hated a girl playing and even parents on the sideline used to hate that there was a girl playing in the team.”
Check out the full clip below – and watch Sam Kerr on Bob, Tuesday at 8.30pm on FOX FOOTY. Also set your alarm for 5am on Wednesday to get behind the Matildas as they take on Jamaica!