The recent announcement that the 2023 FIFA Women’s World Cup would be held in Australia and New Zealand has been seen as a landmark moment for the sport Down Under. With the Matildas and Football Ferns beginning to make an impact on the world stage, the 2023 World Cup has all the makings of being a memorable tournament.

To discuss the impact of the winning bid, we spoke to Melbourne Victory’s Pre-Academy Coordinator Steven Dillon. As well his role at Victory, Dillon previously spent time at New Zealand Football as National Coach Development Manager, so is perfectly placed to understand the excitement of the dual-hosts ahead of the event’s kick-off in just three years’ time…

What’s the reaction been like Down Under to winning the World Cup bid?

I think a lot of the success of this bid should be attributed to the hard work of the supporters of the women’s game over the last few decades to get both Australia and New Zealand to the point of co-hosting this pinnacle sporting event. There have been some true pioneers of the sport who have championed its development for a long time and do need to be applauded and recognised for their contribution.

Does this successful bid mean women’s football has “arrived” in Australia and New Zealand?

Having worked and lived in both countries, I know how much of a boost this will be for not only the football economy, but for the unique wider football communities and football ecosystem that each country has. Pulling these bids together and offering the very best of what the country can offer are no easy feats, and I am sure my colleagues at both Football Federation Australia and New Zealand Football gave all they could throughout what is an extremely tough process, up against very credible bids from other FAs from around the world.

What impact do you think this will have on women’s and girl’s football over the next three years, then post 2023?

Whilst football at this end of the world is very much alive and kicking, I think the impact will extend beyond just women and girls football in terms of fandom and participation. This should inspire everyone to get involved in the game in some form, irrespective of gender, nationality or religion. Having been part of the Women’s World Cup in France last year, I have seen first-hand the significance of this event on both sport and wider society and hope people from all over the world will travel to experience what will no doubt be an incredible event to be involved in.

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