Newcastle was in celebration mode on Friday as news broke the city would play host to up to four 2023 FIFA Women's World Cup matches.
Among those celebrating were Emerging Jets players Kalani Dinnery, 10, and Annika Driscoll, 9, who are part of the next generation already being inspired by a golden era of Matildas led by superstar Sam Kerr.
Australia and New Zealand's As-One bid beat Colombia in a vote of the FIFA Council early Friday morning. The joint bid triumphed by 22 votes to 13, with only the European and South American nations backing Australia's rivals.
Confirmation of the trans-Tasman win comes nearly a decade after Australia was humiliated in its pursuit of hosting the 2022 Men's World Cup, garnering then just a solitary vote.
Newcastle was among 12 host cities included in the As-One bid, and could host up to four games, including the play-off for third. The region will also host teams for training camps in the lead up to the tournament, which will be held from July 10 to August 20, in 2023.
The city has a proven record of hosting big games. A crowd of 21,079 watched the Socceroos beat Saudi Arabia 2-0 in the semi-final of the Asian Cup in 2015.
The Matildas have a perfect record at McDonald Jones Stadium, beating Brazil 3-2 in 2017, Chile 5-0 in 2018 and Vietnam 5-0 in March. The crowd of 16,829 for the Brazil match was for a time an Australian record for a Matildas game.
Northern NSW Football chief David Eland applauded the city of Newcastle on Friday morning for "being prepared to invest in women's football" and Newcastle lord mayor Nuatali Nelmes said doing so was "a multi-faceted approach".
"As we get ready for 2023, any large event attracts investment for infrastructure for our community that is legacy infrastructure," councillor Nelmes said.
"We're fortunate we've got McDonald Jones Stadium and No.2 Sportsground which are ready to go and we'll hopefully be able to upgrade a couple more facilities through the city and that legacy benefit for the community will be amazing."
The draw for the World Cup, which will be held from July 10 to August 20, won't be until late 2022. As well as host games in Newcastle, Cessnock and Maitland are among the listed home bases for teams.
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