Wed. Aug 10th, 2022

Matilda captain Sam Kerr has declared the national team a “safe haven” as players defend the group’s culture in the wake of condemnatory claims from former star Lisa De Vanna.

Kerr was one of 15 current Matildas who expressed their empathy for De Vanna, who went public with historic allegations of bullying and a “toxic culture.”

But they declared the Matildas a “different family” and “just like home” when Football Australia, PFA and Sport Integrity Australia launched investigations into the allegations.

Skipper Sam Kerr had his opinion.  (Photo by David Ramos / Getty Images)
Skipper Sam Kerr had his opinion. (Photo by David Ramos / Getty Images)Source: Getty Images

“I have been part of this team for 12 fantastic years, from 15 years until now. Throughout my career, Matildas has been a safe haven for me and allowed me to grow into the player and person I am today, ”Kerr said.

“I consider myself lucky to be a part of this amazing group of athletes and people.”

As a collective, the players said they acknowledged “the seriousness of Lisa’s claims about the past”, but said that Matildas, who ran a fantastic bronze medal race at the Tokyo Olympics, had a “strong professional, inclusive and supportive culture”.

“We sympathize with her because she did not feel she could come forward sooner,” the player’s statement said.

“We will work with Football Australia, PFA and Sport Integrity Australia to ensure that all current and future players feel safe, secure and able to report cases of inappropriate behavior in a timely manner. There must also be a reliable process to deal with these complaints.

“We all – from our most limited players to our most recently limited – want to assure our fans, family and friends that today we have a strong professional, inclusive and supportive culture that does not tolerate the behavior mentioned in the many media articles on historical events. Our strong leadership ensures that our cultural norms fit into today’s professional sports environment.

Lisa De Vanna said the Matildas had a ‘toxic culture’. Photo: Matthias Hangst – FIFA / FIFA via Getty ImagesSource: Getty Images

“As a group, we represent the values ​​that reflect Australia, and that includes acceptance and inclusivity, regardless of sexuality, ethnicity or culture. It was disappointing to observe conversations emanating from the group not accepting differences, especially given the diversity that exists within our current leadership team on all these fronts, let alone across the broader team.

“We would also like to reiterate the professional standards that surround the current team today. Women’s football has grown dramatically in recent years, as have our professionalism and standards.

“As a team, we have talked for a long time about the accusations and are all hurt by what has happened. We keep this team close to our hearts, and for many, this team has been a safe haven. It has given us strength and purpose throughout our careers.

“We are together as a family in this, from our oldest to our youngest player, and the difficulties we have faced in the last week have only made us stronger as a group.

“We support athletes who are able to stand up and report cases of inappropriate behavior in their respective environments, and therefore welcome an independent review of this issue.”

Personal statements form the players:

“I fully support this collective statement with my teammates. Matildas has been my second family and safe place for over a decade and we, as a fully inclusive team, will always stand for and with each other. ”- Mackenzie Arnold

“I support the collective holder’s declaration. The current Matildas environment is one that enables individual players to strive for their personal best within the team. ”- Ellie Carpenter

“Matildas has always been a different family to me. I have spent more time with these players and these staff than I have at times had with my own family and I have always felt at home and safe. I am proud to be a part of this family and will always support and take care of the people in it. ”-Steph Catley, Matilda’s Vice Captain

Matilda’s Steph Catley, Emily van Egmond, Hayley Raso and Sam Kerr share a special bond. Photo: Sam Kerr / InstagramSource: Delivered

“From the moment I entered the Matildas environment as a 16-year-old, this has been my safe place, and the professional environment has helped me grow into the player and person I am today. I stand with my teammates / other family in full support of this collective statement. ”- Caitlin Foord

“I play my best football when I am in an environment that is professional, fun and supportive. This team gives me all that. ”- Mary Fowler

“Being part of the Matilda family is something I take great pride in. I fully support our collective statements and stand by the strong, inclusive, safe and professional environment that I have experienced in the best part of a decade. . ” – Alanna Kennedy

“Matilda is a big part of my identity. I have dedicated a lot of my time to helping cultivate the culture and professionalism of this team and it has been an amazing journey that we are all proud of. ”-Elise Kellond-Knight

“I have been part of this team for 12 fantastic years, from 15 years until now. Throughout my career, Matildas has been a safe haven for me and allowed me to grow into the player and person I am today. I consider myself lucky to be a part of this amazing group of athletes and people. ”- Sam Kerr, Matildas captain

“Since joining this team in early 2019, I have felt welcome, valued and experienced only the extreme professional environment both on and off the field.” – Teagan Micah

“Being a part of Matilda’s has been the greatest honor and I could not be more proud to be a part of this team.” – Clare Polkinghorne

“Throughout my involvement in Matildas, I have found great comfort in the professional and safe work environment within this group. Matildas is like my family, they have played a big role in shaping who I am and I am so proud to be part of this special team ”- Hayley Raso

Lisa De Vanna and Matildas before the 2019 World Cup in women in France. Photo: Jean-Pierre Clatot / AFPSource: AFP

“For me, when I got into a young age during a major tournament, I have experienced nothing but acceptance and welcome and can honestly say that the environment is one of the best I have been a part of.” – Kary Roestbakken

“I fully support the collective holder’s declaration. For 11 years I have been incredibly lucky to be part of such an amazing team, to be surrounded by incredible athletes and even better people. Matildas have always been more than just a team, they have been my safe place and my other family. In these 11 years, this group has helped me grow and find myself as a football player and as a person. I am grateful to them for being a part of my journey and shaping who I am today. ”- Emily van Egmond

“As a current and long-standing Matilda, I fully support the collective statement from the team and the professionalism that we have built up over the years. I am proud of every moment I get to stand with and for my teammates in the green and gold. ”- Lydia Williams

“As an individual and as a current Matilda, I fully support the collective statement of the teammates I stand side by side with wearing the green and gold jersey.” – Tameka Yallop

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