THE success of the Australia and New Zealand "As One" bid for the 2023 FIFA Women's World Cup is a momentous moment for women's football in both countries, and for women's sport in general.
It is also a big win for the Hunter.
Newcastle's McDonald Jones Stadium is set to host as many as four matches, while the Hunter Region will be a temporary training home for a number of visiting teams.
The Antipodean bid succeeded by 22 votes to 13, with FIFA's Asian, Oceanian, African and North American associations in support, and the European and South American groupings favouring a bid from Columbia.
Following several events from the 1970s that were the equivalent of world cups, the first FIFA-sanctioned tournament took place in 1991.
Playing for the Matildas in Australia will be the highlight of my career and an opportunity to inspire girls, both in Australia and New Zealand, and all over the world to play footballAustralia captain Sam Kerr
Both encouraging - and benefiting from - the massive growth in women's football, the quadrennial tournament has expanded from 16 teams to 24, and the 2023 event will be the first to feature 32 teams.
With Australia's Matilda's ranked number seven in the world, and New Zealand's Football Ferns in 23rd position from 159 FIFA-ranked countries, there is a real chance of both host nations travelling deep into the competition.
The undeniable assistance that comes with being a host nation in such situations means the Matildas will believe themselves a real chance of winning.
Four of the eight tournaments so far have been won by women's football powerhouse, the top-ranked United States. Germany, ranked number two in the world, has a pair of titles. Japan, ranked 11th, and Norway, ranked 12th, are the only other winners.
For Australia, superstar Samantha Kerr turns 30 in September 2023, a month after the tournament ends, and should still be at the peak of her extraordinary powers.
I just broke down when I heard. We barely play any home games - because we are so far away from everywhere else - so this is so epicNew Zealand captain Ali Riley
Teammate and Hunter product Emily van Egmond, two months older, will celebrate her birthday the week the proceedings begin.
An Australian victory would be a wonderful birthday present for two icons of the game, and an extraordinary boost for the nation.
Kerr is right when she says the home World Cup is a golden opportunity to inspire a generation of girls to take up a game that in recent years has gone "to a whole new level".
Embracing the event with full houses at all of Newcastle's matches would help repay the faith that FIFA has shown in sending the tournament Down Under.
While you're with us, did you know the Newcastle Herald offers breaking news alerts, daily email newsletters and more? Keep up to date with all the local news - sign up here
IN THE NEWS:
- NSW Police Minister David Elliott calls for inquiry into assaults against police after Hunter incidents
- Light aircraft's propeller 'stationary' before fatal Maitland crash that killed Andy Shepherd, ATSB report finds
- Saints' pain as thieves target clubhouse, steal uniforms and cause destruction
- Jobs fly south as Jetstar shuts Newcastle maintenance base