In less than two weeks FIFA will make its final decision on the host of the FIFA Women’s World Cup 2023 and here in the Pacific we’re waiting with baited breath.
In a world-first the Australia and New Zealand Football Federations are making a joint, cross-confederation bid.
If successful this would mean big things not only for the football legacy in these two nations, but also across Asia and the Pacific.
Growing participation in their own territories is a priority of the legacy, New Zealand is aiming for seven per cent year-on-year growth in female registrations, but also to develop more opportunities across Oceania.
The exact details of those opportunities have yet to be finalised but both Australia and New Zealand intend to work in partnership with FIFA, the AFC and the OFC on a regional participation strategy which could include the expansion of FFA’s Football Your Way and the OFC Just Play programme across the whole Asia-Pacific region.
When the Australian U-17 women’s team visited the region on their “Pacific Step Up” tour it showed how much of an impact the nation can have with the simplest of gestures.
Driven by international diplomacy “Pacific Step Up” had the team travelling to Vanuatu, Solomon Islands and Tonga. It created lasting ties between all the young women involved and even led to the Australian players sharing their support for those nations and their new friends following Tropical Cyclone Harold.
The 12-day tour of the Pacific Islands also led to the Junior Matildas being nominated for the Special Jury Prize at the 2019 Peace & Sport Awards.
At the time Australia’s foreign minister, Marise Payne, said the team proved themselves to be brilliant ambassadors.
“Sport brings people – and countries – together.”
We are proud to have supported the Junior Matildas ‘Pacific Step Up’ tour of Tonga, Vanuatu and Solomon Islands. These young Australians are fantastic ambassadors and potential future diplomats,” she said.
“They have inspired their peers across the region with their sporting prowess, friendship and positivity. We will continue to build on these wonderful relationships, including through sport, with our Pacific neighbours.”
If the AsOne bid can develop a legacy strategy that incorporates the same principles of sporting prowess, friendship and positivity, the Pacific will enjoy the potential benefits of this event just as much as the hosts.
Here’s hoping the recommendation from the Bid Evaluation Report, which had AsOne earning the highest evaluation score ahead of Colombia and Japan, is considered when the FIFA Council makes its final decision on 25 June.