Newcastle chases Women's World Cup games after FFA launches bid

Football Federation Australia says Newcastle’s track record of hosting major sports events puts it in the picture to host Women’s World Cup games if the country wins the rights to host the 2023 tournament.

Australia became the first nation to throw its hat in the ring for the 24-team World Cup when Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull announced its bid on Wednesday.

FFA is awaiting the final criteria for hosting rights before seeking expressions of interest from state governments to host games.

FIFA is expected to announce the successful country in early 2019, when the next Women’s World Cup will be played in France.

An FFA spokesman said the number of host cities in the bid would be limited by logistical costs but Newcastle, which hosted two 2015 Asian Cup group games, Australia’s semi-final against the UAE and the third-place play-off, had shown it was up to the task.

“If you drill down into the specific examples of places which have shown their ability . . . clearly Newcastle has demonstrated its ability, not just in major events but in regular sport,” the spokesman said. “We go through a process. We have an open mind, and we will look at all the options very carefully.”

Northern NSW Football chief executive David Eland urged the Hunter community to get behind Newcastle as a World Cup venue.

He said the Asian Cup had left Newcastle with suitable training facilities, and the region was enjoying a boom in female player participation.

More than 11,000 women and girls play football across Northern NSW, a 49 per cent increase in five years. That figure is on a par with female player numbers in Victoria, which has almost four times the population. 

The number of all-girl Miniroos teams in the Hunter has risen from six in 2012 to 130.

“It is something we’re doing particularly well,” Eland said. “We’re approaching about 23 per cent of our total registered players. It’s very, very pleasing.

“Clearly with the FFA, with the government’s help, launching a bid, it can only be a further encouragement for young girls to get behind the game.”

Eland said he had spoken with the FFA since the announcement and there was “nothing to suggest Newcastle couldn’t be a serious part of the bid as long as our state government are keen and I suppose the council to an extent as well”.

He said upgrades to Magic Park and No.2 Sportsground before the Asian Cup, and McDonald Jones Stadium’s status as a premier regional venue, put Newcastle in a good position.  

Former and current Jets players Gema Simon, Chloe Logarzo and Emily van Egmond are in the Matildas, who would be among the leading contenders for a World Cup on home soil.

Northern NSW also had 10 girls in national junior squads last year. 

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