With just 594 days until Australia and New Zealand host the 2023 Women’s World Cup, there is much excitement beginning to build. And a key milestone was reached last week as the match schedule for the tournament was revealed at Stadium Australia.
One of the main figures behind the tournament’s preparations is COO Jane Fernandez, who was delighted at the release of the match schedule.
“A huge day, we’re very excited to finally be able to launch the match schedule.” Fernandez told Kick360.
“The opening match will take place on the 20th July in Eden Park, followed by kicking off the tournament here in Australia at the Sydney Football Stadium, which is super exciting. That match will be just a couple of hours after the opening ceremony. And then coming back here to Stadium Australia for the Final on the 20th August.
“We’ve got a nice share of content right around Australia, and also New Zealand, playing the biggest games in the biggest stadiums. Overall Australia will host 35 matches, made up of 24 group games and 11 knockout fixtures, whilst New Zealand will host 29 fixtures, made up of 24 group and five knockout fixtures.”
Women’s football is a sport that is on the rise, and the Matildas in particular have experienced a meteoric rise to prominence and popularity within Australia. Fernandez says that the spread of games across the width and breadth of the country is to ensure both the short term and long term growth of women’s football in Australia.
“It’s super, super important, and we’re going to deliver an event and tournament that inspires and entertains, but we’re also very mindful of legacy. So we want to make sure that we are spreading games right across the country, really amplifying the growth of women’s football, having more women and more girls play our game.
“By spreading the content, by making sure we are playing the games in all the main cities, we are going to be able to achieve.”
Organising a major tournament on its own is no easy feat, combine that with not only co-hosting, but with a major pandemic it is a massive undertaking for those involved. However, Fernandez states that it has been a smooth process, with the teams from both countries being able to work effectively together.
“I think we’re all learning as we go, [in regards to] planning for major events during COVID. I’ve only met my CEO once – Dave Beeche – who is a great CEO, we’re doing everything online. New Zealand also has a COO – Jane Patterson – and again, we have never met int he flesh actually. But we are working so closely together, we’re aligning on all of the strategies and all of the operational planning. Our teams are doing the same.
“To be honest, I couldn’t be happier with the way it is going.”
Whilst last week was a key moment in the planning stage, there is still plenty of work for Fernandez and her team to complete.
“Now we’ve got a match schedule, we’re going to do a deep dive into the operational planning, get right into the weeds of all of that. Start building out travel schedules, identifying where training camps and base sites will be held.
“Moving into next year there will be a number of key milestones, including the final draw.”