OPINION

Golden goal! Women's World Cup comes to our back yard

Fiona Reynolds is a former media executive and now Board director with Football Tasmania. This is her 12-year-old daughter Lilian's seventh season on the pitch.

Fiona Reynolds is a former media executive and now Board director with Football Tasmania. This is her 12-year-old daughter Lilian's seventh season on the pitch.

Australia and New Zealand are celebrating their successful bid to host the 2023 Women's World Cup. Football Tasmania Board director Fiona Reynolds and her daughter Lilian provide a big and small picture of what this means for women's sport in this part of the world.

Big picture

The euphoria of Australia and New Zealand winning the right to host the FIFA Women's World Cup 2023 will soon give way to meticulous planning, to capitalise on this once in a generation opportunity.

Success on our shores won't just be measured by the performance of the Matildas or smooth running of the tournament, but whether there are enduring positive outcomes for football, women's sport and, I would add, regional Australia.

We must leverage off this global event to develop and raise the profile of all three, which will in turn deliver significant social and economic benefits.

Football is this country's most popular organised sport, although that's not yet reflected in the volume of local and national media coverage it draws. There is a huge gap between participation (more than 1.95 million Australians) and profile.

The number of registered players is rising by at least 6% a year - from fun-loving five-year-olds through to professional seniors. Women and girls are driving that increase, with 11% growth in participation recorded in 2019 alone. That tells me it's passion for the sport, not publicity, that's attracting players.

The spotlight on the World Cup should see momentum build - towards football's goal of achieving a 50/50 split in registered players by 2027 - sending a clear signal that women's sport deserves and demands further ongoing investment.

When international eyes are on Australia, the economic benefits should be shared across the broader community. This is a golden opportunity to showcase not only iconic city sights but our beautiful regions. Stadia in Launceston - my home town - and Newcastle were part of the bid and we can't wait to welcome The World Game.

Fiona Reynolds

For all of us, the Women's World Cup will promote a love of the game, encourage others to join in and demonstrate just how fantastic female football is.

Lilian Reynolds

Little picture

When the Matildas play, I'm glued to the television, but I've never had the chance to see them live.

To watch them in action against top footballers from around the world seemed, until now, a dream. I certainly never imagined that we could be hosting games here in Launceston. It's beyond exciting.

I know the World Cup is big business, but the people who are bringing it to Australia in 2023 must remind themselves every day just how much it means to players like me.

The kids at the grassroots are the future of the game and we want to be part of the celebration. I'm not only talking about girls, but boys too.

Just as I think Pele was incredible, Tim Cahill a superstar and admire Lionel Messi's freakish skill, all footballers can take inspiration from Mia Hamm, look up to Alex Morgan and consider Ellie Carpenter a wonderful role model.

Tasmania has produced a small number of Socceroos and Matildas, but more pathway opportunities for players outside the major capital cities will help us increase that number.

For some of us, knowing we might be able to see our heroes train and play right here will provide extra motivation to work hard, in the hope of one day being like them.

For all of us, the Women's World Cup will promote a love of the game, encourage others to join in and demonstrate just how fantastic female football is.

It is The World Game, but it's also our game.

Lilian Reynolds

This story Golden goal! Women's World Cup comes to our back yard first appeared on The Canberra Times.