History Corner: NSFA’s First Matilda

History Corner: NSFA’s First Matilda

We look at our first Matilda, Leigh Wardell.

Leigh started her football career playing in boys teams at West Pymble Waratahs (now West Pymble FC) in the early to mid-1970’s. Leigh’s dad Dave was a prominent coach with the Ku-ring-gai representative boys teams at the time and soon a women’s representative program was instigated, in which Leigh became a standout player.

In October 1979 Leigh was selected in the very first Matildas team and became Matilda #11. A series of three international matches against New Zealand were played in Sydney. Unfortunately, international football was sporadic at that time and between 1979 and 1987 very few internationals were played. Overall, Leigh played 14 times for Australia and scored 4 goals.

Following her retirement as a player, Leigh has worked extensively as a coach and currently she leads junior development at a fellow Women’s NPL1 club in NSW. Our NSFA Women’s Premier League trophy is named in her honour.

In 2019 Leigh was inducted into the FFA Hall of Fame for her contribution to football in Australia.

Photo: FFA.

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