The Matildas have underscored their place as the most popular national sporting team in Australia, winning three awards at the AIS Sport Performance Awards held in Sydney.
Superstar striker Sam Kerr was named ABC Sports Personality of the Year, the Matildas won the Public Choice Team of the Year and Alen Stajcic — the coach of the women’s national football side — took out the Coach of the Year award.
It has been a stellar 12 months for the Matildas, with a breakthrough victory in the Tournament of Nations — where they beat the United States for the first time, and had big wins over Brazil and Japan.
Kerr has been on an amazing run of form, and was a controversial absentee from the shortlist of FIFA’s Women Footballers of the Year.
AIS awards winners
|ABC Sports Personality of the Year||Sam Kerr||Football|
|Female Athlete of the Year||Sally Pearson||Athletics|
|Male Athlete of the Year||Scott James||Winter sport|
|Public Choice Team of the Year||The Matildas||Football|
|Best Sporting Moment||Jeff Horn’s world title win over Manny Pacquiao||Boxing|
|Coach of the Year||Alen Stajcic||Football|
|Para Performance of the Year||Mitchell Gourley||Winter sport|
|Emerging Athlete of the Year||Kelland O’Brien||Cycling|
|Team of the Year||Australian freestyle skiing and snowboard||Winter sport|
|Award for Leadership||Susan Alberti||AFL|
|Service to Sport||Glenn Tasker||Paralympics|
World renowned for her attacking ability and her spectacular celebrations, she continues to bang goals in for the national side and for Perth Glory in the W-League.
Under Stajcic, the Matildas are now seen as a favourite for the Asian Cup in April next year, and a genuine contender for the next Women’s World Cup in France in 2019.
One of the biggest sporting upsets of the year — Brisbane boxer Jeff Horn’s stunning win over fighting great Manny Pacquiao — was named the Best Sporting Moment.
Horn was largely written off in boxing circles against the Filipino fighter, who had won world titles in eight different weight divisions.
But the Australian held his own and went the distance over 12 rounds, winning a controversial unanimous points decision.
World champion snowboarder Scott James claimed Male Athlete of the Year and the Australian freestyle skiing and snowboard squad was named Team of the Year after a record-breaking 2016/17 season.
Alpine skier Mitchell Gourley produced Para Performance of the Year with gold in the men’s super combined standing event at the IPC world titles in Italy.
Pearson had been ruled out of the Rio Olympics in 2016 through injury, but after working to get back to full fitness she returned to the track and claimed gold, running the fourth-fastest time in history for the event.
Young track cyclist Kelland O’Brien was named Emerging Athlete of the Year as a prominent member of Australia’s men’s track pursuit team.
Susan Alberti was presented with the Award for Leadership for her vision and influence in driving the launch of the inaugural AFL Women’s competition.
The president of the Australian Paralympic Committee, Glenn Tasker, was honoured for his long Service to Sport, particularly his dedication to increasing opportunity for athletes with a disability.
AIS director Peter Conde said: “The AIS Sport Performance Awards are a wonderful chance to gather and celebrate world-class achievements.
“As new AIS director I look forward to working with our Australian sporting partners in 2018 to deliver more success, including at the PyeongChang Winter Olympic and Paralympic Games and the Gold Coast Commonwealth Games.”