MATILDAS legend Joey Peters burst into tears when Australia was awarded joint hosts of the 2023 Women's World Cup.
Peters sat, eyes glued to the television screen, when SBS football expert Lucy Zelic screamed "we've got it" in the early hours of Friday morning.
"I burst into tears. It was really overwhelming," Peters said.
There are few prouder Matildas than Peters. The Novocastrian has 110 caps and played at three World Cups. Now a coach, Peters knows how big an injection hosting a World Cup can be for women's football in Australia - not just at the elite level.
"This event will be such a celebration," Peters said. "It is going to be huge. Australia is ready for women's football to step forward and no longer be a token gesture. Women now can be seen and heard.
"We have already seen such a boost in [participation] since we played. Seeing all-girls teams from under-6s up. We saw that in America years ago. To see it here now in our own back yard is amazing.
"I think what Sam Kerr and this current generation of Matildas are doing has taken it to the next level. To have our golden team playing at their peak, in their home town will be awesome. We have seen Sammy Kerr do her backflips here and we want to see them again."
Newcastle is among 12 host cities in the successful As-One bid and as many as five games, including a play-off for third, could be played at McDonald Jones Stadium. The draw for the World Cup is done in late 2022.
As well the matches, Adamstown Oval, No.2 Sportsground, Magic Park and Darling Street Oval will be used as training grounds before and during the tournament. Cessnock and Maitland will host teams for training camps in the lead up to the cup.
"Adamstown Oval in particular," could do with some investment," Northern NSW CEO David Eland said. "That is such a great ground. So many Socceroos have come out of that club. Seeing some investment in those training sites would be one of the best things."
Women's football is the fastest growing arm of the game in Northern NSW.
The Herald women's premier league boasts eight clubs, each with four grades. Last season the women's interdistrict all-age competition had 12 divisions.
"In Northern NSW, we have almost 65,000 registered players and 25 per cent are females," Eland said. "The growth areas is at entry level girls. Last year, the number of females increased by five per cent and it's increased by 40 per cent in the past four years. I have no doubt that a big part of that is the Matildas and how inspiring players like Sam Kerr are.
"It is certainly the game young girls want to play. That will be a big legacy item for us, making strides towards that 50-50 male-female split. Whether that is achievable by 2023 doesn't matter, we just have to keep striving and striving."
"It is also an opportunity for us to make sure that as we keep building the number of females playing, we keep imposing on government just how important it is that facilities meet the needs of female players.
"We did an audit of every facility in NSW back in 2018 and 82 per cent of facilities don't have anywhere for females to get changed. When males and females are sharing grounds, that is not ideal.
"That would definitely be a legacy as well, seeing facilities improve and the access for females."
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