Newcastle lord mayor Nuatali Nelmes hopes the city can be used as a FIFA Women's World Cup 2023 training site after missing out on being a host for matches.
McDonald Jones Stadium was on the list of 13 potential venues across Australia and New Zealand to host World Cup games. But Newcastle did not make the final cut when the nine host cities and 10 stadiums were named on Thursday.
Games in Australia will be played in Adelaide (Hindmarsh Stadium), Brisbane (Brisbane Stadium), Sydney (Stadium Australia and Sydney Football Stadium), Melbourne (Melbourne Rectangular Stadium) and Perth (Perth Rectangular Stadium). New Zealand venues for the World Cup will be Eden Park (Auckland), Dunedin Stadium (Dunedin), Waikato Stadium (Hamilton) and Wellington Stadium (Wellington).
Newcastle has successfully hosted Matildas internationals on numerous occasions over the past four years.
Nelmes expressed her disappointment on Thursday but felt the city was placed well to be considered by top footballing nations as their training sites in 2023.
"City of Newcastle has put up a strong case as a training base to host multiple teams here for the duration of the tournament," Nelmes said.
"Newcastle has some great assets and facilities across our city that would serve any international team well during their World Cup campaign, while our proximity to Sydney and connectivity to the other host cities through Newcastle Airport will also hold us in good stead for consideration.
"We will work with FIFA, Football Australia, Venues NSW and Destination NSW on areas where we can continue to improve for future opportunities, while also looking to implement the actions of our recently endorsed Destination Management Plan to ensure that when visitors are in Australia for the tournament in 2023 a trip to Newcastle will be on their itinerary."
IN THE NEWS:
- Mixed reaction as government moves to end lockouts at Newcastle pubs, clubs
- QLD lockdown ends, masks mandatory as 'Easter is good to go'
- WSL: Ryan Callinan claims victory in seeding heat
- Berejiklian: 'more than a miracle' needed for Coalition to hold Upper Hunter
- Newcastle property market among hottest in Australia
Northern NSW Football chief David Eland echoed the sentiment.
"Obviously we're very disappointed but we've got to dust ourselves off and make sure that we take full advantage of this amazing event," Eland said. "It's literally going to be on our doorstep.
"Our focus now will quickly switch to team-based camps. We need to be really proactive about getting top nations to set up team base camps in Northern NSW. Thankfully there are a number that are identified in the bid book. We've got Coffs Harbour. We've got Port Macquarie. We've got Maitland. We've got Cessnock and we've also got the home of football at Speers Point.
"So we've just got to work really hard and make those towns and those venues as attractive as we can and absolutely go after top nations. In fact, why don't we go after the Matildas. Why wouldn't the Matildas make Newcastle or the Hunter region their home. It's been a real go-to for the Matildas over the last four years."
The Women's World Cup will be held from July 10 to August 20, 2023, and will be expanded from 24 teams to 32 for the first time.
Eland said along with possible training site opportunities, the region would be putting up their hand for international friendlies ahead of the main event.
"Having matches right here in Newcastle would've been fantastic but that's not to be and it certainly doesn't mean that we're not going to leverage and benefit from the event," Eland said. "The game for females just continues to boom and we've just got to make sure that we continue to take full advantage. It's going to be an incredible event and NNSW Football is committed to bringing as much excitement as possible to the Hunter region and beyond. "
NNSWF announced on Thursday it had experienced a 26 per cent increase in female participation over the past five years, with 26 per cent of its players now female.
Training bases are likely to be decided upon by the Women's World Cup competing nations in early 2023.
A Football Australia spokesperson said the sport's national governing body would work with Newcastle, Launceston, and other cities and towns across the nation to ensure that they are involved in the tournament.
"Newcastle is a region rich in football history and one that has demonstrated incredible support for the Matildas over the past four years," the FA spokesperson told the Newcastle Herald.
"We look forward to working with relevant stakeholders to ensuring the team remains connected to the region in the lead up to 2023 and beyond."
The opening match of the Women's World Cup is scheduled for Auckland's Eden Park, while the final will be at Sydney's Stadium Australia. A full match schedule is due later this year.
Meanwhile, in other football news Jets striker Sunny Franco has been signed by Brisbane Roar for the W-League finals campaign.
Our journalists work hard to provide local, up-to-date news to the community. This is how you can continue to access our trusted content: