FIFA Women's World Cup 2023 dream comes true for Canberran stars

Canberra's Karly Roestbakken, Heather Garriock and Lydia Williams are excited by FIFA's 2023 World Cup announcement. Pictures: Getty, Jamila Toderas
Canberra's Karly Roestbakken, Heather Garriock and Lydia Williams are excited by FIFA's 2023 World Cup announcement. Pictures: Getty, Jamila Toderas

"It's a dream come true."

The same five words were on the lips of Matildas, past and present, when Australia was awarded the right to co-host the 2023 Women's World Cup with New Zealand.

No matter the time of day or where they watched the FIFA Council vote in favour of the trans-Tasman bid on Friday morning, Australia's female footballers created history 'As One'.

In Sydney, Matildas goalkeeper Lydia Williams threw back her chair in sheer elation and flung her arms around teammates Alanna Kennedy and Steph Catley.

Canberra's Karly Roestbakken celebrated from more than 16,000 kilometres away in Oslo, phone buzzing with messages from home.

The prospect of hosting a Women's World Cup, the third most-watched sporting event in the world, was little more than a pipe dream until a few years ago.

Matildas great Heather Garriock knows this more than most, having been part of their fight for equal pay, maternity rights and launch of the W-League.

But as she watched the World Cup announcement from her Canberra home, all those struggles seemed worth it.

The steps she and her former teammates took culiminated in turning a pipe dream into reality, bringing the pinnacle event of the sport home.

"This is really special, it's going to be historical. For all the past Matildas like myself who have paved the way and put on the Australian jersey, we're going to be right behind them, especially when they come out to play here in Australia at the World Cup," Garriock said.

"It's almost well worth the blood, sweat and tears we've all gone through on our journey to then come here. It's by no accident we've been given the World Cup, it's because of the talent and performances by the Matildas on the World Cup of late. It's a credit to them as well."

"It's almost well worth the blood, sweat and tears we've all gone through on our journey to then come here. It's by no accident we've been given the World Cup, it's because of the talent and performances by the Matildas of late."

Matildas great Heather Garriock

The Matildas are ranked seventh in the world and reached the quarter finals at last year's World Cup, only to be knocked out by Norway in a penalty shootout.

Now they've got a major benefit of a home advantage in their search for a maiden World Cup title in 2023. If their recent home record if anything to go by, the Matildas will be well primed to do so.

Australia has won their last nine matches on home soil, including three Olympic qualifiers for the 2020 Tokyo Games.

Queanbeyan junior Karly Roestbakken was part of the Matildas' qualifying journey and is on the trajectory to become a regular starting defender.

"It's going to be a great opportunity for Karly Roestbakken to play at home in front of a home crowd, that's going to be really special for her. Canberra can get behind her," Garriock said.

Roestbakken made her Matildas debut at last year's World Cup and her rise to the international stage has since paid dividends.

The 19-year-old defender is in Norway playing for Toppserien club LSK Kvinner and sent a video to Capital Football on Friday, saying how excited she was about the 2023 World Cup.

"What exciting times ahead for football in Australia, this is insane," Roestbakken said.

"I'm in Norway and this is just a dream come true, it made my whole day. I'm super excited.

"The thought of being able to play in front of friends and family, a home crowd, on home soil, is just unreal and a dream come true.

"I can't wait to showcase what Australia is really about and this is an amazing opportunity for women's football in Australia. I just cannot wait for 2023, so back us all the way and I look forward to that year."

Matildas goalkeeper Lydia Williams joined a group of players and officials at Football Federation Australia's headquarters to watch the live-stream announcement on Friday morning.

The Australia-New Zealand bid secured 22 of the 35 votes to beat Colombia and secure the biggest tournament in women's football history.

FIFA expanded the competition to 32 teams and as hosts, Australia and New Zealand automatically qualify.

Williams is gunning for a fifth World Cup and was full of emotion when the host was announced.

A video of her celebration with Kennedy and Catley was shown around the world and greeted many sleepy-eyed Australians good morning.

"I can't believe it, I don't think I've ever sweated so much in a non-training situation. This was intense," Williams laughed.

"I flung my chair out as fast as I could, I just grabbed the nearest person to me who happened to be Alanna and Steph and we jumped around, it was pretty crazy.

"It's about time there was some really good news, especially in Australia with everything that's happening. It's so heartwarming to see this amazing news at 2am shown all over the country and the world. It's so amazing."

This story World Cup dream comes true for Canberran stars first appeared on The Canberra Times.