On Tuesday, before the Matildas took part in the heartbreaking loss to England in the FIFA Women’s World Cup 2023, we had already seen the enormous support across all sporting codes.
From record viewing numbers, to cross-code collaboration allowing Melbourne Cricket Ground patrons the chance to watch the Matildas before a Carlton and Melbourne AFL match, this is the momentum that will help shape the future of football in Australia.
Until now, football has been well behind in available funding, despite being an extremely high participated sport in Australia.
One state that has already taken swift action to build on a tournament that has seen the first men’s or women’s Australian side to reach the World Cup semi-finals is the Peter Malinauskas Labor Government in South Australia.
In a sign of what needs to eventuate for the game to grow in Australia, they have committed $28 million to dedicated female sporting facilities.
The Government is set to deliver $18 million for grant programs over the next three years that will improve female sporting facilities and participation.
In addition, $10 million of the money will be quarantined for soccer, as Football South Australia will chip in to match the grants dollar for dollar through funding sources that involve clubs, Football Australia, Local and Federal Government.
From South Australia alone, girl’s and women’s participation is predicted to increase by 33 per cent over the next three years, which is influenced by how well the Matildas performed.
Funding and investment will be of even more importance going forward, as clubs will be inundated with requests to start playing – as evidenced by Adelaide Comets who shared how their inbox started picking up rapid enquiries.
📺 A record-breaking moment! With 11.15 million watching Australia take on England last night – we’ve become the MOST watched TV program since the OzTAM system began in 2001.
— Football Australia (@FootballAUS) August 17, 2023
Following the conclusion of the tournament, this is the precise reminder of why investment is key, to compete with nations such as England who have their well-renowned training facility at St. George’s Park.
Ultimately, Football Australia will have their part to play as all states in Australia seek to capitalise on this golden opportunity.
Football Australia CEO James Johnson has now seen the men’s and women’s national teams do exceptionally well – now is the time to act.
“We warmly welcome the South Australian’s funding commitment – an important investment that underlines the need for collaboration between government and sport in order to address football’s urgent grassroots facility needs,” he said via media release.
“Following the feats of the Subway Socceroos at the FIFA Men’s World Cup, Football Australia has enjoyed a 10% rise in national participation.
“With the historic performances of the CommBank Matildas at the FIFA Women’s World Cup, we anticipate up to an additional 20% leap.
“However, as we grow, so does the pressing need to bridge our facilities gap – a challenge highlighted by our trajectory, which, if not addressed, will compromise the health of our community, and limit positive life experiences for women and girls.
“Our commitment to gender parity and inclusivity remains unwavering. Yet, we cannot overlook the infrastructure challenges our community clubs grapple with daily.
“This is why the South Australian Government’s funding commitment is pivotal. Together with our government partners, and armed with compelling national facility audit insights, we can make smarter, more impactful investments in community football, ensuring a brighter, more inclusive community for every aspiring footballer.”
We are now in a defining chapter of Australian football. If all state and federal governments and councils can get on the same page, we will be in a far better position than we have seen previously.