Sam Kerr crowned AFC's Women's Player of the Year; Football Australia wins prestigious Grassroots Award

In a proud day for Australian football, Football Australia are thrilled to share three momentous announcements from the Asian Football Confederation (AFC) Annual Awards in Doha, Qatar overnight.

Firstly, CommBank Matildas’ captain Sam Kerr has been honoured with the illustrious AFC Women’s Player of the Year award. This recognition underscores Kerr's exceptional dedication and contributions to the sport, marking her as one of the elite players not just in Asia, but globally.

Kerr becomes just the third AFC women’s footballer to win the award more than once and the first Australian player – male or female – to win one of Asia’s top prizes on multiple occasions. It is also the fifth time an Australian woman has claimed the award.

Parallel to this individual achievement, Football Australia itself has been distinguished with the 2023 AFC President’s Recognition Award for Grassroots Football, as announced by the Honourable Sheikh Salman bin Ebrahim Al Khalifa, AFC President.

James Johnson, CEO of Football Australia, expressed his elation, stating, "Today is a testament to the vibrant football culture in Australia. From the dazzling achievements of players like Sam Kerr to the tireless efforts invested in grassroots, we are making strides on every level. It's heartening to see our vision, hard work, and dedication acknowledged on the Asian stage."

This recognition arrives on the heels of Australia's role as the co-host for the ground-breaking FIFA Women’s World Cup Australia and New Zealand 2023™ – a pivotal moment for women's sport in Australia’s history. While elite football showcased on the world stage, Football Australia diligently worked behind the scenes, aiming for a lasting legacy.

Central to Football Australia’s initiatives was a schools’ program themed around the FIFA Women’s World Cup™, championing schools as a growth nexus for football. The CommBank Matildas shared their cherished memories, narrating tales of the joy and camaraderie they found in football during their school years.

Further augmenting grassroots support was the Club Changer Club Development program and the unveiling of OUR GAME – a platform dedicated to Women and Girls. Through 'OUR GAME', Football Australia aimed to inspire, engage, and increase female participation in the sport.

Addressing infrastructure, a pioneering national community club facilities audit was undertaken, revealing that a mere 36% of changing facilities were female friendly. But adversity bred action; Football Australia’s "Equaliser" campaign secured significant funding, both from the governing body’s own efforts and federal support, ensuring better facilities across the nation.

Football Australia also congratulates Australian match officials Chris Beath, Anton Shchetinin, and Ashley Beecham who are presented with the AFC Referees Special Award for their outstanding performances as match officials.

“Our heartfelt thanks go out to our Member Federations, A-League Clubs, Government partners, grassroots clubs, the diligent team at Football Australia, and the over two million football participants – players, coaches, referees, and volunteers. Their continuous support forms the bedrock upon which our CommBank Matildas, Subway Socceroos, and future stars stand tall,” Johnson added.

“In celebrating these accolades, we are reminded of the strength, unity, and passion in Australian football, from grassroots to global arenas.”