This Adelaide metalhead is now the WWE World Champ. And she’s back in Australia to defend her title

The name Demi Bennett may not sound familiar to many Australians, but her World Wrestling Entertainment (WWE) on-screen persona — Rhea Ripley — is known all around the world.

Meet the Aussie with the wrestling world in a headlock.

The black-clad, chain-wearing, loud-mouthed professional wrestler has come a long way from the day when she first stepped into Adelaide’s Riot City Wrestling 12 years ago, looking to try out.

Since then, Bennett/Ripley has gone on to dominate the wrestling world. Today, she’s the reigning Women’s World Champion, a constant, threatening presence on WWE’s flagship program Monday Night RAW, and a Wrestlemania main-eventer.

Rhea Ripley is known for being strong, dominant and fierce.(Supplied: WWE)

And this weekend, the 27-year-old will set another major milestone in her short yet accomplished career: she’ll perform in Australia for the first time as her larger-than-life persona.

Elimination Chamber, held in Perth this Saturday, is a big deal for Australian wrestling fans.

Not only is this the American professional wrestling promotion’s first live show on our shores since 2018, it is the last major event on the wrestling calendar before WWE’s massive Wrestlemania 40 in Philadelphia in April.

And even though she portrays the “villain”, Ripley will receive a rousing reception when she steps out at Optus Stadium to defend her championship against Nia Jax.

‘You could tell she was something a bit special’

Ripley was originally a fan attending Riot City Wrestling shows and lining up for autographs, waiting to be old enough to try out for a spot.

“As soon as she turned 15 [in 2011], she was straight through the doors,” head trainer Mat Basso said.

A woman with long blonde hair with arms outstretched smiles as she walks down a ramp toward a wrestling ring.

Demi Bennett performing for Riot City Wrestling in Adelaide, South Australia.(Supplied: Mel Keane)

“Right from the start, you could tell she was something a bit special. She had a good personality. She was keen, she was hungry.”

Basso says Ripley, who was performing at the time under her real name, did “really well” during the tryout and went on to learn the tricks of the trade.

“Whether it was learning how to fall properly, learning how to protect yourself … no matter what we threw at her, she just kept absorbing it all, and come back the next day,” he says.

“She was probably her own worst enemy in that she’d be doubting herself all the time.”

A muscly woman with short black hair wearing all black stands in between two muscly men in a wrestling gym.

Rhea Ripley sometimes visits Riot City Wrestling to see head trainers Mat and Chris Basso, as well as the wrestlers.(Supplied: Riot City Wrestling/Mat Basso)

Basso says she would train four to five days per week — building strength, working on techniques and putting together a match.

“She was essentially a toned-down version of what she is now. While she was with us, she was still finding her feet a little bit.

“She was maybe a little bit nervous about putting herself all out there, she was still just a metalhead from Adelaide; she’d come out in band shirts, heavy metal music blaring.

“As the best characters always [do], all she’s done is just dial it up and just let more and more of her personality shine.”

And shine she has.

Since signing with WWE in 2017, Ripley has become one of company’s most followed stars on social media, with 2.6M followers on TikTok and another 3.4M on Instagram.

A man lays on the ring mat, while three men and a woman look proud standing over his body.

Rhea Ripley is part of a faction called the Judgement Day.(Supplied: WWE)

Next month she’ll grace the cover of WWE’s annual video game.

Basso says it was always her goal to get to WWE, but they both knew the chances of making it to the big leagues were “very slim”.

“We always knew that there was a possibility for her because she had that special spark and that magic to her,” he says.

“Her rise through the ranks has been crazy and I just couldn’t be happier for her.

“She’s absolutely going to be a future Hall of Famer.”

A woman with black hair holds another woman mid-air during the middle of slamming her to the ground in a ring.

Rhea Ripley’s finishing move is called the Riptide.(Supplied: WWE)

When she comes home, Ripley visits the gym to meet new talent and help guide them.

“That’s one of my favourite things about her, she’s still a girl from Adelaide,” Basso says.

A woman with purple eyeshadow and black hair shows a black shoulder tattoo of wrestler Rhea Ripley.

Bree Hooper, AKA Raven, is about five months into training with RCW to be a wrestler.(Supplied: Rachel Green/Bree Hooper)

“She comes down, wears blue shorts, wants to get chips and gravy.”

Mat and members of the Riot City Wrestling (RCW) community will travel to see Ripley’s debut Australia performance.

Among them will be RCW trainee wrestler Bree Hooper — AKA Raven — who’s been inspired by Ripley’s goth character and muscly physique.

Another Aussie wrestler set to perform on the night is Grayson Waller, real name Matthew Farrelly.

He’s a loud-mouthed, swaggering frat-boy type, who trained at Sydney’s Pro Wrestling Academy and Newcastle Pro Wrestling (NPW) while working as a high school history teacher.

A man holds up two titles on a wrestling ramp on the left, and the same man on the right stands in a WWE ring.

WWE Superstar Grayson Waller made his way from performing in Newcastle, NSW (left), to the big leagues in the US (right).(Supplied: Newcastle Pro Wrestling/The Jefferson Company (left), WWE (right))

“He was very polite and humble … he has always been very very respectful; he’s a very hard worker,” NPW owner-operator Adam Hoffman says.

“He’s always the kind of guy that’ll give back, too; he’s done chats and Zoom sessions with all the students.

“He hasn’t forgotten where he came from.”

He will be hosting his interview segment, The Grayson Waller Effect, with special guests World Heavyweight Champion Seth Rollins and Cody Rhodes.

A large steel structure with four standing pods with wrestlers in them surrounding a wrestling ring.

The first ever Elimination Chamber match happened at WWE’s Survivor Series pay-per-view in 2002.(Supplied: WWE)

What else can we expect at Elimination Chamber?

There will be two Elimination Chamber matches: one each for the women and men.

The match begins with two wrestlers inside a ring within a steel structure.

Every so often, another wrestler is released into the fray from the designated pods that decorate the corners of the chamber.

Randy Orton, Drew McIntyre, LA Knight, Logan Paul, Bobby Lashley and Kevin Owens will compete in an Elimination Chamber match for the right to challenge for the World Heavyweight Championship at Wrestlemania.

Becky Lynch, Bianca Belair, Liv Morgan Naomi, Tiffany Stratton and Raquel Rodriguez will compete for the right for challenge for the Women’s World Title — up against whoever wins between Ripley and Jax.

Tag team champions Finn Bálor and Damien Priest will defend their Undisputed WWE Tag Team Championships against Pete Dunne and Tyler Bate.

The event will be broadcast live to an estimated audience of up to one billion homes worldwide.

WWE Elimination Chamber streams on Binge this Saturday.

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He’s a serial sexual predator who is no longer an Australian citizen. So why hasn’t Tiny Pinder been deported?

An ABC investigation has found authorities missed multiple opportunities to deport an NBL player and serial rapist, despite him sexually abusing and stalking multiple women and girls in Australia.

The revelations come as the federal government continues to grapple with the fallout from a High Court ruling that resulted in the release of dozens of detainees, including convicted murderers and sex offenders, into the community. 

The ABC can now reveal how former Wildcats star Kendal ‘Tiny’ Pinder was permitted by the federal government — and later an independent tribunal — to remain in Australia, despite him using his fame to lure multiple young women whom he sexually abused over decades. 

Pinder was a star recruit for the Wildcats, having played for the Harlem Globetrotters. (Supplied: Facebook)

Pinder was granted Australian citizenship in 1986, even though he had been previously convicted of a sexual offence involving a teenage girl in the United States.

The former Harlem Globetrotter played for three NBL teams in the late 1980s and early 1990s, helping the Perth Wildcats secure their first two championships.

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The Matildas now know who they’ll have to beat to book their ticket to the Paris Olympics

The Matildas have swept the second round of their Olympic qualifying campaign with a 3-0 victory over Chinese Taipei, with a date with 50th-ranked Uzbekistan set for February to book their ticket to Paris 2024.

After beating Iran 2-0, followed by a spectacular 8-0 demolition of the Philippines in front of a record crowd on Sunday, their third straight win meant Australia finished on top of Group A with a perfect nine points from nine and a goal difference of plus-13.

To qualify for the Olympics, the Matildas must now beat Uzbekistan in a two-legged home-and-away play-off in February to secure one of the two spots given to Asian confederation teams.

Australia, North Korea and Japan secured their places among the final four in Asia by topping the three groups, with Uzbekistan joining them as the best-placed runner-up thanks to a 3-0 win over India.

Australia and world number eight Japan were both perfect in round two, but the Matildas’ goal difference ensured they were the top qualifier.

In front of 19,084 fans on Wednesday night, it took until the 62nd minute for Australia to open the scoring — but it was worth the wait.

Mary Fowler trapped a floated pass and took one more touch before unleashing a powerful strike from 20 metres out to send the crowd wild.

Six minutes later, hometown hero Sam Kerr scored the Matildas’ 900th goal from point-blank range to keep the ball rolling, before substitute Tameka Yallop sealed the deal in the 76th minute.

With goal difference pivotal, the Matildas unleashed a near full-strength starting XI against Chinese Taipei featuring Kerr, Caitlin Foord, Fowler, Mackenzie Arnold and Steph Catley.

But despite registering 17 shots to one in the first half and enjoying 79 per cent possession, the Matildas couldn’t find a way past their opposition’s staunch defence.

Fowler came the closest in the 14th minute, but her powerful shot from close range rattled the woodwork and deflected away.

Stand-out Chinese Taipei goalkeeper Cheng Ssu-Yu pulled off a series of strong saves to further frustrate the Matildas.

But Australia had only themselves to blame on other occasions, firing a series of shots either wide or over the target.

Kerr had a golden chance to open the scoring on the stroke of half-time, but her header at the far post went over the crossbar.

The Chelsea striker also fluffed a chance early in the second half when a poor first touch cost her what would have been a one-on-one opportunity against the goalkeeper.

But there was no stopping Fowler’s thunderous strike in the 62nd minute.

And when a goal-mouth scramble ensued shortly after, Kerr was on hand to score the tap-in.

Kerr was subbed off straight after the goal, but Yallop ensured the party continued with an easy finish following good lead-in work from Foord and Amy Sayer.

In the other match in Perth on Wednesday, the Philippines beat Iran 1-0 courtesy of a 19th minute goal from Tahnai Annis.

Check out how the match unfolded below with our blog.

Key events

Final thoughts

And with that, the Matildas fly through to the third round of Olympic qualifying after a blistering second-half performance against Chinese Taipei.

A glorious goal to Mary Fowler broke the deadlock, with Sam Kerr and Tameka Yallop adding to the damage as Australia finally crashed through an admirable opposition defence, highlighted by a stand-out performance from goalkeeper Cheng Ssu-Yu.

This is the final game the Matildas will play at home this year, and what a year it has been. These three sell-out games in Perth cap off a truly magical rise for the team in 2023, peaking with their Women’s World Cup run. Their impact will ripple through generations to come.

So what’s next for the team? A pair of friendlies against Canada in December, before returning to action in February in the third round of Olympic qualifying where they’ll face one of Asia’s stronger sides in a home-and-away series. Win that final leg and they’re through to Paris in July, where they have unfinished business after just missing out on a medal in Tokyo.

And as always, I’ll be there to take you through it all.

Thank you so much for joining me tonight for our live coverage of Australia v Chinese Taipei. You’re all legends for staying up so late, and I’m thrilled we got a fantastic second-half performance from the team to make tomorrow’s bleary-eyed workday worth it.

Take care and I’ll see you all soon!

Vic is two predictions from two!

Tim Tam slam for me 💚💛😜

– Vic in Vic

Quick, go and buy a lottery ticket, Vic!

Full-time: Australia 3 – 0 Chinese Taipei

92′ Australia keep on coming

We want four! They want four!

Caitlin Foord, Kyra Cooney-Cross, and Mary Fowler are all still hungry, swimming around the box as they search for a sealer.

The ball falls to Fowler, who’s on an absolute tear, opening her body up and thumping the rubber.

I fully expected it to fly into the net – as did most of the crowd based on the “ooh”s – but it goes just wide of the post.

5 minutes of added time

You and all of us, Tony!

I will sleep better now. phew! Thanks for the coverage Sam. Cheers

– Tony

Glad the Tillies could put on a show for ya in the second half.

I will sleep soundly knowing that we’ve got at least another ten years of Mary Fowler. And she’s already this good. Golly.

And the Player of the Match goes to…

Crowd number: 19,084


That’s three sell-outs for the past three games, taking the sell-out streak for the Matildas to 11 consecutive games.

Sensational work, Perth. We should bring games there more often.

84′ Yallop almost has another!

A gorgeous floating cross from Amy Sayer on the right wing is looking for the head of Tameka Yallop, who made an immediate impact off the bench a few minutes ago.

The ball is floating in that in-between space where a single inch can determine who gets it, with Yallop and Chinese Taipei goalkeeper Cheng Ssu-Yu both throwing themselves up into the sky to connect with it.

The goalkeeper’s gloves reach the ball first, but Yallop’s momentum carries her into the keeper and clatters her into the grass.

She’s up a few moments later, taking a few sips of water. She’s been absolutely epic this game, and I recall the comments from her head coach Chan Hiu Ming yesterday, asking Australian A-League Women clubs to keep an eye on some of his players to potentially give them some opportunities.

Well, there’s someone who’s put her gloved hand up tonight.

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#Matildas #theyll #beat #book #ticket #Paris #Olympics

Matildas defeat Philippines 8-0 in second Olympic qualifier

Three days after scrapping past a stubborn Iran side, the Matildas have rediscovered their groove by defeating the Philippines 8-0 in front of a record crowd at Perth Stadium as their Olympic qualification campaign charges onwards.

Hat-tricks to Sam Kerr and Caitlin Foord were complemented by goals to Mary Fowler and Clare Wheeler in both halves as head coach Tony Gustavsson fielded his strongest line-up for the first time since the World Cup.

In front of a sellout crowd of 59,155 at Optus Stadium on Sunday, Kerr and Foord scored first-half braces as Australia took a 5-0 lead into the break.

Kerr secured her hat-trick just 24 seconds into the second half when she headed home a pin-point cross from Mary Fowler for her 68th goal from 127 internationals.

Foord notched her own hat-trick in the 56th minute when she danced around an opponent on the by-line and nailed her shot from a tight angle.

The result thrust the Matildas to the top of Group A on six points, meaning all they need is a draw against Chinese Taipei next Wednesday to guarantee progression to the final stage of qualification in February.

Even with a loss the Matildas would either top the group or at least qualify as the best runner-up from the three Asian confederation groups.

The only concern from Sunday’s match was an injury to substitute Cortnee Vine, who came off in the 75th minute with what appeared to be a hamstring issue 10 minutes after coming on.

“It’s amazing to play here in front of a packed crowd,” Kerr told channel 10 after the match.

“I think everyone came out here and gave 100 per cent. We worked our butts off today, that’s for sure.”

The Matildas rested most of their biggest stars in Thursday’s 2-0 win against Iran, but they wheeled out a full-strength outfit against the Philippines in a match that would effectively decide the group winner.

Kerr, Foord, Mackenzie Arnold, Steph Catley and Fowler were among the 10 changes, and it didn’t take long for the floodgates to open.

Fowler opened the scoring in the 15th minute courtesy of a clever deflection from Foord.

And the crowd went into a frenzy when Kerr scored from close range in the 19th minute following a superb run by Foord, who beat two opponents before dishing off the assist.

Kerr turned provider for the next goal when she expertly controlled Fowler’s lobbed pass before dishing off to Foord to score in the 30th minute.

Foord added another three minutes later when she held off an opponent before sliding a shot past the goalkeeper as she was falling to ground.

Kerr made it 5-0 on the stroke of half-time when she found herself one-on-one against the goalkeeper and blasted the ball into the back of the net.

The Matildas skipper headed home Fowler’s cross just 24 seconds into the second half, and it was party time in the 56th minute when Foord evaded an opponent to secure her hat-trick.

Kerr, Hayley Raso, Kyra Cooney-Cross and Katrina Gorry were subbed off in the 65th minute with the job done, but substitute Clare Wheeler ensured the party continued with a 72nd-minute rocket from the edge of the box to secure her maiden international goal.

The world number 44 Philippines, coached by Western United boss Mark Torcaso, came from behind to beat Chinese Taipei 4-1 in their group stage opener, but they were simply no match for the Matildas.

Read how the match unfolded in our liveblog below.

Key events

Thanks and ciao

It’s been a joy bringing you tonight’s incredible performance from the Tillies. The teal away kit really does give them special powers.

Their final match against Chinese Taipei kicks off at 10:00pm AEDT on Wednesday night, and you bet your butts I’ll be back on the blog for what is hopefully another convincing outing from the gals.

Until then, have a great start to your week, and I’ll see you then!

Final thoughts

We couldn’t have asked for much more than that, could we?

Eight goals, including five in the first half. A clean sheet. Two hat-tricks. A record crowd.

The Matildas’ path towards qualification for the Paris Olympics next year seems like just a matter of time.

A completely dominant performance, especially from the returned World Cup heroes.

While the second-half fizzled out somewhat after a raft of changes, which is something the team will need to sort out moving into the third round of qualifying against much tougher opposition, for now there’s not much more that could’ve been better.

23 shots, 12 on target, 76% possession, 689 passes, 5 corners.

And a very, very happy Perth crowd.

Full-time: Australia 8 – 0 Philippines

93′ Sayer isn’t giving up!

The young midfielder comes charging into the six-yard box head-first, trying to connect with a fizzing cross from Carpenter from the byline.

But the ball is just too quick and Sayer – as well as everybody else – misses it completely.

92′ Emily Van Egmond could’ve capped it off

The Philippines are basically blue training cones now; they’re barely able to track back or keep up with the Matildas.

Emily Van Egmond and Ellie Carpenter exchange a couple passes, with the substitute kinda just walking towards the top of the box without any pressure. She has so much time to open her body up and take a shot, but for some reason tries to pass through to Foord, who’s standing offside anyway.

The ball trickles away. Weird moment.

Four minutes of stoppage time

And the Matildas are still hunting for a ninth goal, bless ’em.

89′ Chance!

A deep free kick by Catley finds the head of Amy Sayer this time, who flings her dark ponytail at it totally unchallenged near the six-yard area, but it’s an awkward connection and bounces well over the crossbar.

So still a ways to go

Hi Sam, just checked on Wikipedia and it’s about the 8th biggest crowd at Optus. After some AFL games, a Bledisloe Cup and a State of Origin.

PS. How’s your French?

– Mark

My French is very bad. The Duolingo owl is not happy with me.

But we’re one step closer to the Paris Olympics, so I think I might have to brush up…


Wow… this is embarrassing…I got it wronger than I ever have.

– Natty

But honestly, I’m okay with being wrong if these are the kinds of performances and score-lines we get!

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Matildas defeat Iran 2-0 in first Olympic qualifier

Sam Kerr has come off the bench to score the clincher in front of her hometown fans in the Matildas’ 2-0 Olympic qualifier win over Iran in Perth.

In front of 18,798 fans on Thursday night, Ellie Carpenter opened the scoring in the 19th minute before Kerr sealed the deal with her 78th-minute tap-in.

Matildas coach Tony Gustavsson warned on the eve of the match that he wouldn’t be throwing his jet-lagged stars into the deep end, and a glimpse at the bench proved those words to be true.

Kerr, Mackenzie Arnold, Katrina Gorry, Kyra Cooney-Cross, Caitlin Foord, Stephanie Catley, Hayley Raso, Alanna Kennedy and Mary Fowler all started on the sideline.

With the scoreline still just 1-0 at the 65-minute mark in a match Australia were predicted to win easily, Gustavsson brought on Kerr, Catley and Fowler in a triple substitution.

The move worked a charm, with the trio joining forces to create Australia’s second goal.

Catley combined with Fowler for a one-two before firing a low pass across goal, allowing Kerr to complete an easy tap-in.

Foord, Raso, Arnold and Gorry were among the unused substitutes.

The Matildas enjoyed 82 per cent possession in the first half, and a neat run down the right from Cortnee Vine helped set up the opener.

Vine’s cross made its way to Charlotte Grant, who passed it off to Carpenter to rifle the ball home for just her fourth goal in 70 appearances for Australia.

Ellie Carpenter opened the scoring for Australia.(AAP Image: Richard Wainwright)

Carpenter almost had a second in the 31st minute when she was played in and only had the goalkeeper to beat, but her shot from an angle was well wide of the target.

Iran’s players did their best to waste time whenever the chance arose.

Theatrical rolls on the ground were a common theme in the first half, much to the frustration of Matildas.

Adding to Australia’s frustrations was their own inability to finish off their chances.

Kerr received a rousing reception when she was brought on in the 65th minute.

The star Chelsea striker fired a 72nd-minute strike over the crossbar, but she made no mistake from her tap-in six minutes later.

Kerr had a golden chance to score again in the 93rd minute, but she couldn’t keep her strike low enough.

Sam Kerr with crowd

Sam Kerr performed in front of her home crowd.(AAP Image: Richard Wainwright)

In the earlier match, the Philippines came from behind to post a 4-1 win over Taiwan, firing them to the top of the group.

Yi-yun Hsu opened the scoring for Taiwan in the 47th minute as the underdogs dreamed of a an upset.

But a double to Sarina Bolden and goals to Katrina Guillou and Chandler McDaniel meant it ended up being an easy win for the Philippines.

The Matildas face off against the Philippines on Sunday and Taiwan next Wednesday.

Australia must finish on top of the group to guarantee passage through to the final round of Olympic qualifying in February.

Look back on our live coverage below. 

Key events

Final thoughts

The Matildas get their Olympic qualifying campaign off to a good start, with Ellie Carpenter and Sam Kerr getting on the score-sheet, but it was a much tougher task than perhaps what they were expecting.

Iran sat deep and defended like their lives depended on it, throwing themselves in front of every cross and pass aimed towards their penalty area, with goalkeeper Zahra Khajavi having a stand-out performance.

It was an experimental side from Tony Gustavsson, with several big names starting on the bench, and there was a noticeable lack of chemistry and cohesion among some of the newer players.

The young Amy Sayer was the most impressive newbie, providing some dynamism and spark through midfield, while Emily Van Egmond and Clare Wheeler offered some much-needed calmness and control.

Yet the Matildas struggled to find avenues to goal, with Cortnee Vine and Tameka Yallop having a couple bright moments, though it was Carpenter who eventually found the opener after a scramble in the box.

The jammy first half from Australia just made the quality of their World Cup stars even more obvious, with Mary Fowler and Steph Catley in particular adding a different level of class and choreography to the contest.

It’s always a challenge breaking down deep defensive blocks, which is something the Matildas have traditionally struggled with, especially in Asian competitions.

With two games left against opponents who could pull out similar tactics, Australia will have to be smarter and more patient in their attacking phases, and far more clinical in front of goal.

But in the end, a win is a win, and this was a game as much about shaking off the rust as it was getting the three points.

Australia will next face the Philippines on Sunday afternoon at Optus Stadium, kicking off at 6:10pm AEDT.

And I’ll be back on the blog to take you through it all!

Thanks so much for joining us tonight, and go Tillies!

Full-time: Australia 2 – 0 Iran

99′ Australia 2 – 0 Iran

Steph Catley is standing over her second corner in quick succession.

It skims off the head of Kerr at the near post, but somehow clatters into Emily Van Egmond who’s just… standing in the way?

If that counts as one of the team’s few shots on target, I’m gonna laugh.

Big kudos to Zahra Khajavi

needs to be some credit to the Iranian keeper – she hasn’t stopped throwing herself at everything and definitely helped keep it close.

– Campbell

All the sitting-down aside, she’s absolutely been the reason Iran have kept this game to 2-0.

96′ Iran on the attack

Negin Zandi – Iran’s most dangerous player – picks up the ball and drives forward, feeding it out to her winger on the left side.

Zandi is the only red shirt that makes her way into the box, surrounded by four Matildas, waiting for a returned cross.

But it never comes. The ball from her team-mate is poor and easily intercepted and cleared away.

93′ It’s hard to keep up

Australia just keep attacking and Iran keep defending.

Ellie Carpenter had a chance before that went just wide, and Alanna Kennedy just had a header fizz past the wrong side of the post.

Iran haven’t done much other than throw their bodies in the way of every Matildas shot, which tallies 24 now, though only six have been on target.

It’s a lot, fam. My poor fingers are nubs.


11 minutes of stoppage time!

Bench depth

Hello Sam – I know it’s a qualifier and not a friendly, but it seems a tad harsh on the Iran to bring Sam, Mary and Steph on at the same time…

– Mike

Imagine being Iran. You’re probably exhausted, you’re a goal down, but you’ve had a couple glimpses of goal, you just need one little opening to be able to capitalise on an error…

…and then Sam Kerr comes on the field.

I’d just give up then and there. But that’s why I’m here tapping away at my computer and they’re out on the field!

86′ Wave after wave after wave

The Matildas just keep on coming, working down both wings, trying to pierce passes through the middle to Kerr.

The noise of the crowd is noticeably louder now that Australia’s World Cup heroes are out there.

Fowler, Catley and Kerr have undoubtedly added more energy and class to the Matildas going forward. You can see their chemistry already humming away.

Won’t be surprised if we see a third goal scored by the end of the game based on the number of chances those three have already created between them.

Anyone taking bets on the amount of added time?

The medics are working overtime

– Jack

There’s gotta be at least 10 minutes that have been used up by Iran’s players sitting on the grass, right?

83′ Australia substitution

That’s the last contribution from Amy Sayer tonight, who’s had a great game, I reckon. Would love to see her again when Australia face the Philippines on Sunday afternoon.

She’s replaced by Kyra Cooney-Cross.

81′ Chance Australia!

Oh my goodness, what a pass from Mary Fowler.

The Manchester City midfielder has been walking on air since coming onto the park, dancing between players and threading space-warping passes through lines.

She twists and brings an aerial ball down onto her foot balletically, seeing a run from Amy Sayer from deep midfield cutting through Iran’s defensive line.

Fowler anticipates the run and delivers a gorgeous reverse pass that takes out three Iranian defenders, right into Sayer’s charging path.

The midfielder shoots but Iran’s goalkeeper sticks out a strong left foot and it’s thumped away.

So nice to watch.



The substitutes made it look way too easy: a simple one-two between Mary Fowler and Steph Catley sees a low, hard Catley cross towards the back post right into the cushioned foot of Kerr.

That’s international goal number 65 for Kerr. Different gravy.


73′ Iran’s keeper is down

She’s holding her head after that collision earlier, sitting back down in the grass as Catley is standing over another corner.

The crowd isn’t holding back now: they loudly boo the Iranian player as the physios come back onto the field to hopefully perform a concussion test.

Catley already looks pissed. She’s bouncing the ball around with her other hand on her hip.

The goalkeeper eventually stands up and gestures around to her players like nothing is wrong.


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Jordan’s connection with his horse is like ‘father and son’. But his hopes of showing it off are hanging in the balance

Jordan Hill describes his connection with his horse as “like father and son”.

When he’s riding “Spidey”, any stress and frustration fades away, leaving the equestrian rider with a grin from ear to ear.

It’s a similar smile to the one Jordan gets when he describes his excitement at the idea of the Special Olympics World Games — described as the world’s largest inclusive sporting event — coming to Australia in 2027.

“I really, really want it to come here because I really want to compete … [in front of] all my friends and my family and my girlfriend as well,” he said.

Perth had been in the box seat to host the games, winning the early approval of international organisers to bring together thousands of athletes from across Australia and the world.

Equestrian athlete Jordan Hill says he will be devastated if the event is not held in Perth. (ABC News: Keane Bourke )

But those hopes now hang in the balance with growing uncertainty about whether the games will get the government support they need to go ahead.

Time running out on host bid

Organisers had been hoping for around $95 million of government funding, with $45 million from the federal government and $25 million each from state and local governments.

It was also proposed that the state government would cover the costs of allowing the event to be held at state-owned venues like Perth Stadium, without the need to build any new infrastructure.

“That has been agreed at various points in time, and certainly the deputy premier at the time, now Premier [Roger Cook] has been supportive of that,” organising committee chair Tanya Brown said.

A lady with long light brown hair wears a white jacket and is pictured in front of a photo of Perth Stadium

Perth 2027 committee chair Tanya Brown said the event would deliver a big economic return to WA. (ABC News: Keane Bourke)

But so far, no level of government has committed to funding the games, also leaving potential partnerships with dozens of companies in doubt.

Special Olympics’ governing body needs funding agreements to be resolved before the end of the month, or Australia could miss out.

Ms Brown says with other cities already lining up to host the games, 2027 is Australia’s only opportunity in the foreseeable future.

Jordan said he would be “a bit devastated” if that’s what happened.

WA government priorities elsewhere

Australia losing its chance has become more likely in recent days, with Mr Cook ruling out spending any government funds on the event at a press conference announcing Perth would host a series of Rugby 7’s games.

“In 23/24 we will spend $1.3 billion on disability services for Western Australians and that’s our focus,” he said.

A man in a suit with a yellow and gold scarf speaks.

Roger Cook has knocked back organisers’ hopes for state funding. (ABC News: James Carmody)

“Particularly as we’re starting to bed down the NDIS and as part of the review we think it’s important to focus upon disability services rather than these large celebrations.

“Our focus at the moment is on disability services in Western Australia, utilising taxpayers’ funds to make sure we support those people with a disability to lead rich, rewarding lives.”

A state government spokesperson said there were also “questions” about the event’s price tag.

But Ms Brown said the NDIS was a completely separate issue.

“There’s no assurance of where that money lands and there’s no commitment to people with intellectual disability,” she said.

“NDIS doesn’t really have anything to do with Special Olympics.

“Special Olympics is about ending discrimination against people with intellectual disability.”

Jordan says he has a special bond with his horse ‘Spidey’. (ABC News: Keane Bourke)

Funding limbo

At the same press conference, Mr Cook said both the federal government and the City of Perth had also declined to fund the event.

But Ms Brown later told ABC Radio Perth she was yet to have formal responses from any level of government, including the state.

A Commonwealth spokesperson only said the government was “aware of Special Olympics Australia’s interest” in bidding for the Perth Games.

“The government considers proposals for support to host major sporting events in Australia as part of budget processes,” they said.

“The government remains committed to delivering a green and gold decade of major sporting events that will create significant socio-economic benefits for all Australians.”

City of Perth Lord Mayor Basil Zempilas said it was disappointing the event might not go ahead, but that any funding from the city would need to go through council processes.

The Lord Mayor wears a navy suit jacket and pink tie

Perth Lord Mayor Basil Zempilas says he supports the games, but understands concerns about the cost.  (ABC News: Keane Bourke)

“These big events are always incumbent on receiving state and federal government funding,” he said.

“But would the City of Perth [have] considered a financial contribution to the levels which our ratepayers could support? Absolutely, because it’s such a good event that would have brought so many people to Perth.”

A return on investment

The most recent World Games, held earlier this year in Berlin, attracted around 7,000 athletes and 23,000 supporters and coaches from 190 countries, according to Special Olympics.

Fireworks burst in the sky over a big German monument, as crowds gather with a big screen in the background.

Thousands of Special Olympics athletes from around the world descended on Berlin in June. (AP: dpa/Jean-Marc Wiesner)

Plans for Australia’s version estimated it could bring in as many as 19,350 international visitors, and another 7,650 from interstate.

Analysis of the plans prepared by EY in late 2021 estimated the cost of the event at $136 million but projected it would result in $212 million of economic benefits – or a return of $1.56 for every dollar spent.

That included $86 million of tourism spend before, during and after the event, as well as an estimated $40 million benefit to the health system by avoiding “inactivity of previously inactive participants and inspired spectators” over a 10-year period.

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Emily was sexually abused by a school teacher and she wants you to hear her story

As a teenager in a small WA regional town, Emily Bonser had the world at her feet.

She was an exceptionally talented sportswoman, and at the age of just 15 had been selected for the state hockey team.

Her love of sport was fostered and encouraged at her high school in the Wheatbelt town of Northam, where in 2010 Leith Dianne Woods — then in her early 30s — began work as a physical education teacher.

Like Emily, Woods was a talented and high achieving sportswoman, and through that shared interest, they spent a lot of time together.

But in Emily’s final year of school, Woods grossly abused her trusted position to abuse the teenager.

Leith Dianne Woods began sexually abusing Emily while the pair was on a sporting trip in WA’s Great Southern region. ()

Woods has now been jailed and Emily wants to tell her story — to reclaim her life and, most importantly, try to help anyone else who is, or has been, in her position.

‘I felt guilt and shame’

Emily was just 16 and in year 12 at Northam High School when the sexual abuse happened.

While Woods did not actually teach her that year, she coached sporting teams Emily was on.

 They played hockey together and travelled to and from training sessions and games.

The abuse started on a sporting trip to Albany when Emily and Woods were play fighting on a bed.

Emily Bonser (right) was in Year 12 at Northam High School when the abuse began.()

In the following days, Emily sent Woods a text message. As a student, she felt she needed to apologise to the teacher “for putting her in that position”.

But Woods replied: “I don’t regret it.”

Emily now realises she had nothing to apologise for.

“I felt guilt and shame that that occurred, and I felt bad and I apologised,” she said.

“I knew it was wrong, but being told they didn’t regret it, was something that made it all confusing.”

What followed was a secret sexual relationship that continued throughout Emily’s final year of school.

It continued — again in secret — for another five years, but it was not until 2021, when Emily was in her 20s, that she realised that how the relationship started was wrong, and she needed to report it to police.

Woods was finally held to account earlier this month in WA’s District Court, when she was convicted of seven offences of abusing a child over 16 “under her care, supervision or authority”.

Confronting abuse head on

Northam is a town in the Avon Valley about 97 kilometres from Perth, with a population of around 12,000

Emily believes many people in the relatively small community are aware of what happened, and she now wants to put it on the public record.

“I’m the type of person who likes to run into the storm,” she said.

Emily Bonser first met Leith Woods when she was a student at a regional WA school. ()

“I think a lot of people are aware of the situation and know that it occurred and know it’s me.

“I feel that coming out and saying that is the case is a good way for me to move forward, knowing that it’s out there.

“People may talk about it for a few weeks but then I move on with my life — [I’m] also taking a strong stance that being young and vulnerable is okay.”

Emily’s also keen to rebuild her relationship with her family.

She said the secret at the heart of what happened to her caused her to distance herself from them.

“I had not wanted them to know, because that person became almost a family friend and someone that my family thought was supporting me,” she said.

“I isolated myself from them, so that I wasn’t breaking their hearts or having to lie to them.

“Distancing and isolating myself was a really big aspect of keeping that secret and shame within.”

Emily has now reconnected with her family and has surrounded herself with what she calls a “supportive ecosystem” of people.

Career ambitions derailed

After she left school Emily studied to be a teacher — something she knew she wanted to do from a young age.

She also tried to pursue her sporting talent.

Emily Bonser during her days playing for the West Coast AFLW side. ()

Initially signed by the Dockers AFLW side, in 2020 she was given a two-year contract with the inaugural West Coast Eagles team.

However, the abuse she suffered meant she had to abandon both, leaving West Coast after just a year, and quitting teaching at the same time, during her first year in the job.

It was during this time, Emily says, that Woods finally acknowledged that she had abused her. 

“Being exposed to children who were the same age as me at the time … and thinking ‘those children are so young, vulnerable’, that really got to me because it made me understand, seeing them every day, that was me, and these kids are just so precious,” she said.

“And being a physical education teacher, that’s been a big hurdle to get over, with being in the same environment,”

Emily is currently on extended leave from her job, but she hopes to resume her career.

Athletes ‘more vulnerable’

Talking openly about what happened to her is something Emily hopes will help others.

“I honestly feel as if I want to open the conversation and allow people to approach and ask questions because I think that’s education,” she said.

“It does happen … there are signs, and we as a community, the strong people around the children, have the ability to stop it from happening.”

Emily is particularly concerned about young athletes, because of the amount of time they spend with their teachers and coaches.

“I think there’s a lot of public interest in understanding and knowing that young elite athletes are more vulnerable,” she said.

Emily spent a year with the West Coast Eagles AFLW side. ()

“Being in a role where children look up to you, whether it be support staff or a coach, children and athletes want to do what they can to be the best they can, and that’s why they’re so easily swayed.

“Especially with that extra time, being allowed to have one on one with athletes is a really dangerous space.

“There’s a lot of weight to that and I want to bring that kind of aspect of understanding.”

Abuse a ‘gross breach of trust’

It has taken two years for Woods’ case to progress through the court system.

Earlier this month, the now 42-year-old pleaded guilty to six sex abuse charges but denied a further seven, necessitating a trial.

Her lawyer argued some of alleged abuse, on school organised trips, just did not happen, because Woods regarded those events as off limits because of the risk of being caught.

After a four-day hearing, the jury acquitted her of all but one of the seven counts.

Woods was sentenced to four years and four months jail, with Judge John Prior telling her the crimes “involved a gross breach of trust.”

Leith Dianne Woods was sentenced to more than than four years in jail for sexually abusing Emily.()

“The public expect that children who are in the custody of teachers, both on and off the school campus, will not be subject to physical, sexual or psychological abuse,” he said.

“Teachers occupy a position of trust and authority …. the community relies on teachers for the proper education, guidance and instruction of children, and most teachers, the vast majority of them, understand that is their role.”

Now that she’s an adult, Emily says she fully understands that what happened was wrong, and while she will have to emotionally and mentally manage the abuse for the rest of her life, she’s looking forward to moving on.

Emily Bonser wants her story told to help other young women dealing with a similar situation. ()

“I’ve carried that for the last 11 years and with the sentencing occurring, I’ve been able to shift that guilt and shame over, and I don’t carry that anymore,” she said.

“Coming to terms with what happened to me, I realised that I was very vulnerable and young an impressionable at the time — there is nothing wrong with that.”

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