Iconic women’s teams honoured with the Don and the Dawn


Two ground-breaking moments in Australian sports history have been honoured, with the Matildas and the Sydney 2000 women’s water polo gold medallists winning major awards.

The Sport Australia Hall Of Fame (SAHOF) has handed the Don award to the Matildas for their inspiring performances at this year’s home World Cup, where they reached the semi-finals.

Forward Kyah Simon, who is nearing a return to action after not featuring in the World Cup because of injury, accepted the award on the Matildas’ behalf during a function on Friday at the MCG.

The team is in Canada, preparing for friendlies against the Olympic champions.

“The fact that we weren’t able to take a medal away from the World Cup … as athletes was quite disappointing for us,” Simon said.

(Photo by Chris Hyde – FIFA/FIFA via Getty Images)

“But thinking back and reflecting on the tournament, we were able to do something much more in terms of inspiring the next generations to follow their dreams.

“I’m sure the future Matidas were wearing those colours and in those stands at the games.”

The Dawn award, introduced in 2021, recognises a person or body that has shown courage and changed sport for the better.

The Australian water polo team successfully lobbied the International Olympic Committee (IOC) in 1997 to include a women’s competition at the Games in Sydney.

While the men had been competing at the Olympics for nearly a century by then, the women had been lobbying for a place for two decades.

The Don Award ????????️

Joining an illustrious group of previous winners, including the @socceroos, Cathy Freeman OAM, Ash Barty AO and more!#Matildas #SAHOF23 #TheDonAward pic.twitter.com/txzzhTuddF

— CommBank Matildas (@TheMatildas) December 1, 2023

Australia’s players famously greeted IOC delegates at Sydney Airport with a noisy protest in their competition swimsuits and then gatecrashed a media conference.

They went on to provide one of the highlights of the Sydney Games, beating the United States with a last-gasp goal in the gold-medal game.

“The team extends way past this group and we recognise that the women who went before us certainly were trailblazers,” said gold medallist Simone Fountain.

“We were the lucky ones to be in the right place.

“We certainly stood there for a lot of other people and a lot of other females who went before us, who never got that opportunity.

“It was a humbling moment then, probably even more now, because we’ve committed to keep supporting our sport.”

???????????? The #Sydney2000 Women’s Water Polo team have today been recognised for their trailblazing efforts, awarded the @sportaushof The Dawn Award ????

Find out more ???? https://t.co/8yL7TgDXwZ#SAHOF23 | #TheDawnAward pic.twitter.com/CHdvpwXkxn

— Water Polo Australia (@WaterpoloAus) December 1, 2023

Most members of the 2000 gold medal team attended the awards function, promising they would make the most of a rare reunion.

“You’re lucky you got us in the morning,” joked team member Liz Weekes.

Socceroos star Tim Cahill, hockey player and track star Nova Peris and rower Kim Brennan were also inducted into the SAHOF at the function – the last of this year’s new members to be officially honoured.

The Don is named after Sir Donald Bradman and the Dawn is in honour of Dawn Fraser, who attended Friday’s function.

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