Opinion

Former Matilda Barbieri: This is a new dawn for Australian football

Former Matildas goalkeeper Melissa Barbieri celebrates during a match against New Zealand in 2012. Source: Getty Images

Melissa Barbieri played in four World Cups for Australia and played over 80 times for the national team. The former Matildas captain explains what this means for the sport and the country.

Is it real? Are you sure? It feels like we are 2-0 up against Iran and someone is going to jump on the net and ruin everything for everyone.

I am sure we all were quietly confident that we would be getting hosting rights for the 2023 FIFA Women’s World Cup once Japan stepped out of the race then backed our Australia - New Zealand bid.

If playing for your country at a World Cup is an honour, then donning the shirt in your home country - well I don’t think I have the words.

Families usually make the journey to watch you, so while playing in front of them is special is not the true draw-card. 

It’s knowing that every little girl and boy (also men and women for that matter) is being inspired by what they are witnessing.

You won’t have to be in the stadiums to feel the atmosphere and the rhythm of the world game.

It will be in every home, on every football pitch and in every club room in the southern hemisphere.

The crowds will come to enjoy the football, but our hospitality will have them leaving with a sense of wonder they had never experienced before. 

Our Aboriginal and Maori people will welcome those from across the seas with rituals dating back since before time was born.

The goosebumps I have thinking of that moment is unrelenting.

A chance for us all to learn the great details of our heritage but also share them with the world.

A long history of welcoming others from different lands to call Australia and New Zealand home.

Our diversity and respect of cultures far and wide will make any traveling nation feel at home.

No need to rent a crowd here guys - we've got you covered. 

Players will prolong careers for this moment, the thirst to be a part of history and an awakening of football in this country would be all the motivation you need.

National team will have selection headaches because the level of fight for positions just exploded in every elite and community club in this country and over in Europe.

Aussies and Kiwi’s will flood the playing market striving to make sure that when that trophy makes its way down under, that it stays there for the next four years. 

For the first time, you will see two confederations hosting a tournament of this magnitude together.

The cross Tasman rivalry we are used to will be halted in order to bring the Asian (AFC – Australia) and Oceania (OFC – New Zealand) confederations together. 

Both the FFA and Football New Zealand have been working hard behind the scenes to bring this dream to reality.

Whilst it’s the players that will be on showcase, it’s the people behind the scenes that will be rewarded for their pursuit of excellence in their fields – many of which quit their jobs in order to work full time on the bid.

The countless hours spent rallying and creating a journey that any good band-wagoner would jump onto.

They already had the footballing community behind them, they just needed to sway the non-believers.

Rounding out this behind the scenes team is always the volunteers, many of them paid workers going above and beyond the workweek.

The former Matildas and lovers of football, who never needed convincing, pushing the bid at every opportunity.

Knowing the legacy of a tournament like this would be the foundation of a different era in football.

A new dawn for the only true World Game. 

It's our time now.