I sat there at the edge of my seat..
Biting my nails..
Nervous as a cat on a hot tin roof.
I’d never felt this restless over a soccer game before.
But there they were.
Our girls, the incredible Matildas, battling it out with France at Brisbane Stadium.
Playing their absolute hearts out.
100 minutes into the game and nobody had scored a single goal.
The pressure was mounting..
The clock was ticking..
The penalty shootouts began.
One after the other, we scored goal after goal .. and I think at this stage I’d chewed off all my nails.
Finally, the winning goal was kicked.
Cortnee Vine, 25 years old, a girl from Shepparton .. she knew the weight she carried at the very moment.
But she raced towards that soccer ball and kicked the winning goal.
The crowd around me, and I, erupted in a symphony of thunderous applause.
Our girls had made it to the Semi-Finals.
The team raced towards each other like magnets…
Embracing each other in a tremendous wave of joy, relief, and …
To be honest, I can’t really accurately describe the emotions everybody felt that night.
It was just…marvellous.
And while we didn’t beat Sweden or the UK, our girls still played their absolute finest.
They executed what I thought one news piece described it perfectly.
A truly “herculean effort”.
For a good, two, drawn- out hours..
They showed us what it meant to be a team.
The Matildas united Australia.
For a few weeks, we came together in support of a team that were unbreakable.
The obstacles they faced, the trials and tribulations they endured..
It seemed like they were up against the world (well, they were).
But there was something that held them together,
There was something that made all the parts work together seamlessly.
And it was that something that united these girls together, towards a goal that no Australian team in soccer has ever reached before.
The Matildas saga isn’t just about sport.
It’s so much more than that.
“No cause, no team”.
The Matildas’ incredible performance was driven by a belief.
A purpose to win what go somewhere where no Australian soccer team has ever gone before.
The FIFA World Cup championship.
But there is no way they could ever do that..
If they didn’t believe in what they were doing.
And if they didn’t trust one another to get there.
Without values, there is no team.
Values and core beliefs play an absolutely fundamental role in fostering effective teamwork.
And that’s true whether you’re battling it out on the soccer field or powering through in an office.
This is not the same thing as a goal.
A soccer team’s shared goal is to win matches and championships.
In a business environment, your goal might be to deliver quality projects and achieve business targets.
But, without being unified in a core set of beliefs and values that drive people at a deep emotional level…
Reaching that goal just won’t happen.
For the Matildas, we saw an incredible set of values playing out on that soccer field.
And it’s something we can all learn from.
The Matildas trust each other.
Trust forms the bedrock of the Matildas’ gameplay.
It shows us the critical role it has played in their collective success.
Each player has a deep understanding of their teammates’ abilities, decisions, and movements.
And this allows for quick and intuitive gameplay.
By placing their trust and understanding in one another, the Matildas have created an environment that empowers each and every woman to push their limits.
The Matildas smash stereotypes.
“Hopefully the public sees that together, we want to send the message of being really inclusive, accepting and loving of one another. No matter who you are, who you want to be, where you come from or who you love, you will be welcomed.” Sam Kerr, Matildas captain
With each and every move on that field..
The Matildas knew exactly what they represented.
A massive “f*** you” to the stereotypes of sport.
The Matildas are unapologetically breaking down gender-based stereotypes, both in the world of soccer and beyond.
They showcase that strength, agility and determination are not limited by gender.
By smashing these stereotypes, the team inspires young people (not just athletes) to pursue their dreams without limits.
They compel the world to recognise and celebrate the capabilities of women not just in sports, but everywhere.
The Matildas encourage each of their players to grow.
“I look up to so many of the girls and to lead them out is an honour. But it’s also been an honour when they’ve led us out too. I think that’s the great part about this team, that everyone plays their part. Everyone could wear the captain’s armband. There are no egos in this team, it’s all about making sure the team succeeds.” Sam Kerr, Matildas captain
When you grow people, you grow the team.
And each Matildas player is empowered to embrace their unique strengths and areas for growth, ensuring that they contribute their best to the whole collective effort.
The Matildas are creating a synergy that elevates the team’s overall performance –
Setting a powerful example for teams everywhere, across all facets of life.
How will your team embody the Matildas spirit?
If you’re a leader reading this, I want you to stop and think for a moment.
How is your team embodying the Matildas spirit?
Is your team united by a purpose?
Are you driven by a set of values?
Do you place trust in each individual?
Do you encourage each and everyone of your team members to grow?
The Matildas, in modern Australian life, have become more than just a soccer team.
They have become a beacon of what it means to be a powerful, unstoppable team force.
You and I can learn a hell of a lot from them.