Australia may have missed out to Qatar for 2022 hosting duties, but there’s a new World Cup bid on the line.
Matildas star Kyah Simon and Greenway MP Michelle Rowland have thrown their support behind Australia hosting the 2023 FIFA Women’s World Cup.
Simon, who grew up in Quakers Hill and made her national debut at 16, said she was “overwhelmed with joy and excitement” at the prospect of playing an international tournament on home soil.
“As a kid my goal was to play for Australia, then my goal was to play at an Olympics and a World Cup,” she said.
“To have this dream turn into a reality, and to think we could now host a World Cup; I never thought that would happen in my lifetime.”
Simon’s family have travelled to Canada and Brazil to support her in major tournaments, and the former Western Sydney Wanderers player said they would love to cheer on the Matildas in Australia.
She also said it would mean a lot to the players.
“Even the thought of it, your imagination can really go wild as a player. I think we get a taste of it in W-League when we get the opportunity to play in our home cities in front of our family and friends, and we love that vibe,” she said.
“You get a different buzz as a player when you’re the home team. If that was on a larger scale as a player, at a FIFA Women’s World Cup, I can only see that escalating those feelings of excitement and determination, and that extra one or two per cent it might take to win a game.”
The Matildas are currently ranked eighth in the world, with a youthful squad that could potentially enter a home tournament as favourites in six years time.
Ms Rowland said it was great to see local heroes like Kyah Simon representing Australia on the world stage.
The politician has sent the player several messages of support over the years, but the two met for the first time yesterday as Australia launched its official bid.
“Local sport is the heart of the community, and it is pleasing to see the national interest in women’s sport growing,” Ms Rowland said.
“The Women’s Football World Cup is a great opportunity for Australia to showcase its homemade sporting talent and I am proud to be supporting Australia’s bid to host it in 2023.”
“To have my local MP supporting such a great cause, and obviously being a female as well, is fantastic to see,” Simon said. “It was really nice to see the whole of parliament come together and support one great cause.”
Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull spoke of his delight at supporting the bid, saying the Matildas were “wonderful role models for young women and girls right across Australia”.
The federal government has pledged $1 million in initial funding, and will commit a further $4 million in December if Australia is considered to have a reasonable chance of hosting.
The host nation won’t be announced until 2019.
Simon, 25, said she is “definitely hoping” to still be in the Matildas squad in 2023, and she hoped Australia’s ambition would encourage younger players to aim for that level.
“We’re going to continue to grow the game, hopefully be as positive role models as possible at the top level, and that filters down to grassroots as well to grow the game as a whole.”
Simon will be running football clinics in July for girls aged 8-18 at Lily Homes Stadium, Seven Hills. The player said the days are about empowerment, confidence, mentoring and “more than just football”. More info: kyahsimon.com.