Italy, Brazil, Jamaica, Argentina, Korea Republic, New Zealand, USA. Just some of the teams that the Westfield Matildas cross paths with in 2019.
As a snapshot of the global reach and appeal of football, it is hard to beat.
Harmony Day, held each year on March 21, is Australia’s celebration of cultural diversity. It is a day which embraces inclusivity, and looks to recognise and celebrate the many nations and cultures that make Australia the rich and vibrant country it is.
With memories of last Friday’s Christchurch terror attacks still fresh in the mind, the search for harmony has rarely been more to the forefront for people across New Zealand and Australia.
Today, we celebrate the cultural diversity that earns football its title of 'the world game'.
To find out more about Harmony Day, click HERE.
For the Westfield Matildas, 2019 has already brought fixtures against New Zealand, Argentina and Korea Republic in the Cup of Nations, bringing a mix of styles and approaches for Ante Milicic’s team to grapple with as they look forward to the FIFA Women's World Cup France 2019™.
Whether it was New Zealand’s hard-running, counter-attacking style, the intricate ball play of the Koreans or the attacking enterprise of Argentina, Australia’s players adapted admirably on their way to winning the competition with three successive wins.
That ability to understand the cultural differences between opponents can only serve them well at the World Cup.
Play as you learn
With a line-up who play for clubs around the world, the Westfield Matildas have benefited hugely from the cultural diversity of their football education.
The USA is a popular destination for Australia’s leading female footballers, with no fewer than 20 of the Westfield W-League’s brightest stars shining their light on the National Women’s Soccer League (NWSL) in the coming season.
Further afield, Alex Chidiac plies her trade in the white-hot atmosphere of Spain, where a world-record 60,739 fans turned out to watch her Atletico Madrid side take on Barcelona in La Liga Femenina last weekend.
And how about the diverse footballing education of Australian midfielder Elise Kellond-Knight?
Having inked her signature with NWSL outfit Seattle Reign for 2019, Kellond-Knight is set to play club football in her sixth country, having previously performed in Denmark, Japan, Germany, Sweden and of course, Australia's Westfield W-League.
The Westfield Matildas remarkable rise in recent times has opened up new opportunities all over the world. In April, players will report to America before playing the reigning FIFA Women’s World Cup champions USA in a friendly.
Antalya, Turkey is then the destination for Milicic’s side, who will spend 10 days on Turkey’s south coast as preparations for France 2019 continue to escalate.
A beautiful celebration
There is no greater snapshot of football's global appeal than the FIFA Women's World Cup.
And the Westfield Matildas will be one of 24 nations all playing their part when France 2019 commences in June, when fans and players of all colours, creeds and beliefs come together and demonstrate their love of the game.
GET TO KNOW: Australia’s FIFA Women’s World Cup opponents
Australia will renew their rivalry with Brazil when the big tournament kicks off, but face a completely new challenge in other Group C opponents Jamaica.
The Westfield Matildas have never taken on the Reggae Girlz in an international women's football match, highlighting the new ground the Australian national team continue to break on their global conquest.
Italy complete the group stage challenge for Australia. It's their first ever FIFA Women's World Cup appearance, but a country with whom Australia share a long and storied footballing past.