University of Sydney alumnae represent Matildas at World Cup

7 July 2023
University to host Women’s Football Conference during the competition
In two weeks, the Matildas will line up in front of 80,000 fans at Stadium Australia for the opening match of the 2023 Women's World Cup - and two University of Sydney alumnae will be among their number.
Clare Hunt and Clare Wheeler

Clare Hunt and Clare Wheeler

The final 23-player squad announced by Football Australia on Monday includes defender Clare Hunt (BScience ‘20) and midfielder Clare Wheeler (BCommerce ‘20), who are both competing in their first World Cup. 

“I’m delighted for both players, who earned this honour through hard work and determination while balancing the demands of a professional football career with academic success during their time here,” said Vice-Chancellor and President Professor Mark Scott. 

“The University community stands behind them in their quest to lift the World Cup on home soil, and we’re proud to have been a part of their remarkable journeys. 

“This achievement continues the great tradition of women’s sport at the University of Sydney, which we will continue to celebrate during the World Cup with our first conference on women’s football.” 

Clare Hunt and Clare Wheeler are also graduates of the Sydney University Soccer Football Club, where they played for five years while residing at St Andrew's College.  

Sydney University Soccer Football Club board member and conference co-organiser Dr Andy Harper said: “The football club is extremely proud of both Clares, whose journey from regional NSW to the University and as student athletes is an exemplar of the nexus between sport and education and its huge life-changing potential.” 

Running from Monday 31 July to Thursday 3 August, the Business and Development of Women’s Football Conference 2023 is bringing together professional athletes and leading international experts to discuss the emergence of women’s football and its future. 

Speakers include: 

  • Julie Dolan AM, first Matildas captain 

  • Bonita Mersiades, football writer and former Socceroos team manager 

  • Jean Williams, Professor of Sport History, University of Reading 

  • Rae Anderson, Paralympian and Para Matilda 

  • Jessie Davis, Women’s Sporting Director, FC Nordsjælland 

  • Sasha Sutherland, Director of the Barbados Olympic Association 

Panels will address topics including diversity, access, inclusion, globalisation and commercialisation, and the conference will conclude with two on-field courses for coaching women’s and girls’ football. 

Clare Hunt, Clare Polkinghorne, Clare Wheeler and Mary Fowler defend a free kick.

The University of Sydney has proudly partnered with Football Australia and Football NSW for more than 25 years to provide free coaching accreditation for pre-service teachers – a partnership that will continue with the coaching course offered on Thursday 3 August. 

Conference co-organiser Dr Steve Georgakis, senior lecturer of pedagogy and sports studies at the University of Sydney, said more than 5,000 students have achieved accreditation through the program. 

“The University has been at the grassroots of promoting football to girls in schools for decades, so it’s fitting that two of our alumni are about to represent Australia in one of the biggest sporting events this country has ever hosted. 

“When we sat down to plan this conference more than a year ago, we thought about the magnificent strides the code has made in Australia – to the point that that, for many, the Matildas are our most important national team. 

“I’m proud of the role the University has played in this, and I can’t wait to welcome experts from around the world as we celebrate women’s football and think about its future,” Dr Georgakis said. 

Learn more and register now for the Business and Development of Women’s Football Conference 2023

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