WA STARS Sam Kerr and Lisa De Vanna are poised to make some personal history when they represent the Matildas in the FIFA Women’s World Cup in France in June.
Kerr will become only the second West Australian, male or female, to captain an Australian national football team in a World Cup finals when she leads the Matildas in their opening Group C game against Italy at the Stade du Hainaut in Valenciennes on June 9.
The 25-year-old East Fremantle-born Kerr has already skippered the Matildas, leading them to victory in the Cup of Nations tournament earlier this year and helping them put up a gutsy effort in a 5-3 loss to World Cup champions United States in a friendly challenge in America in April.
Australia’s other games in a tough group are against Brazil (June 13) and Jamaica (June 18). The top two from the group qualify automatically for the Round of 16, which starts on June 22.
The Matildas have been quarter-finalists in the World Cup finals in 2007, 2011 and 2015.
They were pipped for a semi-final spot in Canada four years ago, losing 1-0 to Japan in the quarters.
De Vanna was captain of the Matildas in that World Cup in Canada, making history by becoming the first West Aussie to achieve the honour in the world championship.
The 34-year-old Fremantle-born winger then shared the captaincy with Clare Polkinghorne until new Matildas coach, Ante Milicic, handed the role to Kerr a few months ago.
De Vanna, however, is on course to grab another bit of history.
She is already the Australian women’s team’s highest goalscorer, with 47 international goals, and is poised to become the most-capped Matilda.
De Vanna has made 147 appearances and is only four behind the most-capped Aussie, Cheryl Salisbury, who turned out 151 times for the Matildas.
She could figure in the side that will play Holland in a friendly on June 1 and then game time in the group games in France, and potential further appearances if the Aussies progress, could take her level, or above, Salisbury in the honours charts.
Two other WA-born players are in the World Cup squad for France – goalkeeper Lydia Williams (born in Katanning) and midfielder Aivi Luik (born in Perth).
This will be the fourth World Cup for De Vanna and Williams, the third for Kerr and the first for Luik.
It’s not the first time that four West Australians have played for the Matildas in a World Cup finals.
De Vanna, Williams, Kerr and Colette McCallum were all in the side that took part in the 2011 finals in Germany.
There were also four WA stars in Australia’s first official international match, which was against New Zealand at Seymour Shaw Park, Miranda, New South Wales, on 6 October 1979 – Sandra Brentnall, Judy Pettitt, Sharon Mateljan and Julie Clayton.
The Australian Women’s Soccer Association was founded in 1974 and a team made up primarily of players from New South Wales and WA was sent to the 1978 inaugural World Women’s Invitational Tournament, in Taipei, Taiwan.
Australia played against club teams at the tournament and none of the players’ appearances counted as official caps.
A stunning total of seven West Australians took part – Sandra Brentnall, Julie Clayton, Barbara Kozak, Sharon Mateljan (nee Loveless) Judy Pettitt, Anna Senjuschenko and Teresa Varadi.