Five Northern NSW Football (NNSWF) regional centres, including three in the Hunter, will play a major role in the 2023 FIFA Women’s World Cup.
In a coup for the local organisation, Speers Point, Cessnock, Maitland, Port Macquarie and Coffs Harbour have been identified as team base camps for one of the biggest tournaments on the planet.
And, NNSWF is committed to working with Football Australia to lure the leading nations to the area, according to CEO David Eland.
“The Northern NSW region has been a go-to for the Matildas in recent years, staging highly-successful fixtures against Brazil and Chile,” he said.
“While it goes without saying we’re disappointed with this morning’s announcement FIFA has not included Newcastle as a host city of the 2023 FIFA Women’s World Cup.
“However, is the time to dust ourselves off and focus on ensuring the event delivers an enduring legacy for the region and the country.”
Already, NNSWF is working with Football Australia and the NSW Government to stimulate significant investment in community facilities to ensure the game has the capacity to cater for the surge in female participation in the sport.
The state government recently announced it has committed $50 million to specifically improve amenities for women in regional NSW – which is a great start.
“We’re already seeing an increase in female participation across the sport with interim numbers for 2021 registrations showing 26% of current registrations being female compared to 23% in 2019 (YoY comparison),” Eland said.
“And, there’s still time for young girls and boys to register for the season.
“This emphasises the ongoing support local clubs will need in obtaining funding to ensure talented female players, regardless of where they live, can access the expertise and competitive opportunities required to reach their potential.”
Eland said just because Newcastle was not a host city, it did not mean northern NSW residents would miss out on matches.
“Fortunately, Sydney is easily accessible from the Hunter and travelling north to Brisbane from the North Coast and Far North Coast is also accessible,” he explained.
“Like with other large international tournaments, we’ll investigate how we can facilitate opportunities for the football community throughout northern NSW to attend fixtures in Sydney and Brisbane.
“The 2023 FIFA Women’s World Cup is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to partner government to deliver an enduring legacy for our game and our communities.
“Bring on 2023.”