Football Federation Australia (FFA) today welcomed the decision by the Asian Football Confederation (AFC) which will see Australia host two (2) AFC Youth women’s qualification tournaments in Australia in 2021.
The AFC has granted Australia hosting rights for a group of the AFC U20 Women’s Asian Cup 2022 Qualifiers Round 1 which will be held in Shepparton, Victoria and a group of the AFC U17 Women’s Asian Cup 2022 Qualifiers Round 1 to be played in Cessnock, New South Wales.
The AFC U20 Women’s Asian Cup 2022 Qualifiers Round 1 are currently scheduled to take place in March next year, with the AFC U17 Women’s Championship 2022 qualifiers in April.
FFA Chief Executive Officer, James Johnson, said that the hosting of these tournaments was an important milestone for the development of football in Australia.
“On behalf of the Australian football community, I would like to extend our thanks and gratitude to the AFC for granting Australia the hosting rights for these important youth women’s football tournaments which will be held next year,” Johnson said.
“The hosting of these two tournaments aligns with our desire, espoused within the XI Principles for the future of Australian football for Australia, to become the centre of women’s football in the Asia-Pacific region.
“We are excited that our future stars will have the chance to play for Australia on home soil and to showcase their talent in front of friends and family. It also our great pleasure to bring international football to the communities in Cessnock and Shepparton and we hope to provide more opportunities for Australian communities, particularly those in regional areas, to share in the spectacle of the world game.
“We are looking forward to working with the Greater Shepparton City Council and Cessnock City Council to host these important fixtures for the Westfield Young Matildas and Westfield Junior Matildas.”
FFA is very aware of potential issues related to COVID-19 and will continue to work with Cessnock City Council, Greater Shepparton City Council, the NSW Government, the Victorian Government and the Australian Federal Government to ensure that the health and wellbeing of all participants, as well as members of the community, are protected during these tournaments.
“We will continue to monitor the COVID-19 situation nationally and internationally,” Johnson added. “With these games to be held in 2021 we hope and expect that the situation locally and within the Asian region will have improved by the kick-off of these tournaments.”
“We will always put the health and wellbeing of the host community, players, officials, and fans first in relation to these important qualifiers,” he concluded.
Greater Shepparton City Council Chief Executive Officer Peter Harriott said it was fantastic to be selected to host this prestigious event.
“We are very excited for Greater Shepparton to be one of the first Australian cities to see the return of international events and welcome these top athletes to our region,” Mr Harriott said.
“Our community has a proud football history and we pride ourselves on investing in world class facilities that allow for elite events to be held in our own backyard. It will be an amazing experience for our local aspiring athletes to witness the country’s very best junior women’s footballers go up against Asia’s best at the Shepparton Sports City precinct next year.
“Hosting the round one qualifying games will also see a real boost to our business community, injecting economic stimulus into our local restaurants and cafes, accommodation services, retail shops and attractions which have all been hit hard following the onset of the pandemic.”
Cessnock City Council Mayor, Cr Bob Pynsent, was also excited about hosting the event in the Cessnock community.
“Cessnock Sportsground is a fantastic facility and we’re extremely pleased to host the AFC U17 Women’s Asian Cup 2020 Qualifiers Round 1,” Cr Pynsent said. “It’s a great opportunity for our community to witness talented athletes and expose some of our own aspiring young sports men and women to this level.”
“We look forward to working closely with AFC to ensure the event is COVID-safe for all, including the athletes, officials and spectators,” concluded Cr Pynsent.
The Westfield Young Matildas and the Westfield Junior Matildas will learn which Asian nations they will host in their respective groups when the official draw is conducted at AFC House later this year at a date to be confirmed.