Football Federation Australia (FFA) announced today it has partnered with Cessnock City Council to submit a bid to host the Asian Football Confederation (AFC) women’s football qualification fixtures in Australia in 2021.
FFA has joined forces with the Council, in the Hunter region of New South Wales, with a view to hosting a round one qualification group for the AFC U-17 Women’s Championship 2022.
If successful, Cessnock would play host to the Junior Matildas’ AFC U-17 Women’s Championship 2022 qualification pool in April next year, with three or four other Asian nations also descending on the city for the first phase of qualifying.
Up to 10 fixtures would be held at Cessnock’s Baddeley Park – a facility that is a proposed base camp option for the FIFA Women’s World Cup Australia/New Zealand 2023 – while Turner Park in Cessnock and Rockwell Automation Park in nearby Weston have been proposed as prospective training sites for the youth qualifiers.
Turner Park and Rockwell Automation Park are home to Cessnock City Hornets FC and Weston Bears FC respectively, clubs with 113 years of history in the Northern NSW football catchment.
FFA Chief Executive Officer James Johnson said that the commitment to bid to host more international football content is aligned with Australia and New Zealand’s recent success in winning the right to host the FIFA Women’s World Cup, as well as measures proposed in the XI Principles for the future of Australian football discussion paper.
“We are delighted to be working with the proactive Cessnock City Council to submit a bid to host elite Asian women’s football qualifiers in Australia in 2021,” Johnson said.
“On the back of the recent announcement that Australia, together with New Zealand, will co-host the FIFA Women’s World Cup in 2023, this is precisely the type of content we need to bring to our shores. This type of activity will help ensure FFA can fulfil its mission to become the centre of women’s football in Asia-Pacific and continue to grow interest and participation in the women’s game.
“It is also a priority for FFA to host more national team matches on home soil, so the prospect of earning the right to host this qualification group and taking fixtures of national and international importance to a regional centre eager to invest in Australian football is something we are thrilled with.”
FFA is acutely aware of the COVID-19 situation nationally and internationally. FFA will work with Cessnock City Council, the NSW Government and Federal Government to ensure that the health and wellbeing of all participants, as well as members of the community, is protected should Australia be successful in earning hosting rights for the qualifiers.
“We will continue to monitor the COVID-19 situation nationally and internationally,” Johnson said.
“With these games to be held in 2021, it was important that we submitted our bid for the qualifiers now in accordance to the timelines set by the AFC. The submission has taken place in the hope and expectation that the situation will have improved by April next year.
“We will put the health and wellbeing of the prospective host community, players, officials and fans first should we be successful in earning the right to host the qualifiers.”
The AFC will award the hosting rights for the AFC U-17 Women’s Championship 2022 round one qualification groups in the coming months.
Northern NSW Football Chief Executive Officer David Eland
“Northern NSW Football is appreciative of Cessnock City Council’s support to bid for this important qualification tournament, which would feature the Junior Matildas and showcase some of the best young female footballers in Asia.
“If Australia is awarded hosting rights by AFC, the event would provide Northern NSW Football and local stakeholders with the opportunity to inspire more young girls to play the nation’s largest club-based sport and build upon the huge growth in the number of females playing our game.”
Cessnock City Council Mayor Cr Bob Pynsent
“We welcome this partnership opportunity and are continually looking for opportunities to best utilise the facilities we have here in our local government area.
“Our previous experience in hosting international sporting teams has been extremely positive. It’s a chance to show off the region and all we have to offer. It also means our community get to spectate some quality sport. There’s no doubt the people of Cessnock are sports lovers.”
Westfield Junior Matildas Head Coach Rae Dower
“It’s incredibly exciting to see the FFA bidding to host the 1st round of the AFC Qualifiers here in Australia. The opportunity for our junior and youth national teams to play at home in front of their family, friends and football fans in general is rare and I’m sure this will give our next generation of Westfield Matildas extra incentive to take this next step in their development and strive to be selected in the Junior Matildas.
“This will also give the football-loving public of Australia a taste of what it’s like to watch more elite women’s football played at their local clubs and fields and increase the interest and exposure of these talented young players.”