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Indigenous Matilda Lydia Williams backs 'important' move for exposure and future goalies

Jarred Cross -

Noongar Matilda and veteran goalkeeper Lydia Williams sees the long-term impact for fans and aspiring footballers being able to pull on the same jumper, or the current version, of the one she has 100-plus times.

From February 27, Matildas replica goalkeeper jerseys will be available for purchase alongside the regular strip in stores.

Football Australia and playing kit partner Nike made the announcement on Monday.

It comes before the 2023 World Cup semi-finalists host Uzbekistan for the second leg of their Olympic qualifiers in Naarm on Wednesday, the latest in a string of at-home sellout matches for the 'Tillies.

Although Williams will be in the stands nursing injury, the 35-year-old says it's an exciting opportunity for her usual cladding to be finally available to others.

Since debuting at 17 almost 20 years ago, Williams has 103 caps for the national side.

In club football, the veteran recently returned home with A League side Melbourne Victory after a couple of years with European giants Arsenal and Paris Saint-Germain.

"The amount of people who wanted to get a jersey was massive," she told Fairfax.

"It's so important for the visibility of females in sport and female goalkeepers. 'Macca' (current first choice keeper Mackenzie Arnold) obviously had an amazing performance at the World Cup, and now for people who have her and myself and Teagan (Micah) and (up and coming Indigenous keeper) Jada (Whyman) as their heroes, it's really exciting that they can have that opportunity."

At present, fans can't get their hands on the black and pinks jerseys worn by Arnold during the World Cup with only the purple version available for now.

During her current Australian tour US singer Pink and her daughter, Willow, were gifted a jersey each by Williams - the first two handed out.

Williams said the musician is fitting recipient as a a "huge advocate" of women's sport.

Arnold said the move was proof of the trajectory they're on.

"The support we as goalkeepers have felt from our fans over the last year has been absolutely incredible," she said.

"It means so much to me that we'll head into another huge year for our team, and our sport, knowing that our families, friends and fans will be backing us all the way, and wearing our jerseys with pride.

"When I was a young athlete, the idea that I could make a living as a goalkeeper never really crossed my mind. It's a testament to how far our game has come that the next generation of keepers will now see fans wearing our jerseys in the stands."

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