Football South Coast chief executive officer Ann-Marie Balliana believes Australia's Women's World Cup bid win will "inspire a whole generation of players to want to take up the game".
In the early hours of Friday morning, FIFA announced that Australia and New Zealand had won the right to host the 2023 Women's World Cup.
Balliana said the decision was the perfect tonic to help attract more female juniors to participate in football, including in the Illawarra.
"Having one of the biggest tournaments in the world here in Australia, obviously there will be a lot of exposure. I think it will definitely increase participation numbers for both boys and girls," Balliana said.
"With the juniors, we're [currently] around the 10,000-mark and around 25 per cent of those are female, so we have about 2500 female juniors. And we always see a major spike after a major tournament like the Asian Cup and World Cups as well. I think this will be a little different. Leading in, because there's been such a positive vibe about football - particularly female football - I think we will likely see female football numbers grow.
"If we compare ourselves to the United States, for example, they're female playing numbers are at 50 per cent. I think Australia's still got a lot of work to do to increase female participation numbers and the lead in to the World Cup will certainly be a great opportunity to leverage off of that."
Matildas stars Caitlin Foord and Sam Kerr are set to be the faces of Australia's World Cup campaign in 2023.
Balliana said the Matildas - particularly Albion Park junior Foord - were great ambassadors for football.
"The Sam Kerrs, the Caitlin Foords, they've been involved in the Matildas for a while now and they're already great role models for junior players," she said.
"Hopefully they're all fit and healthy heading into the World Cup. They're already so well known and to have that following leading into the 2023 World Cup will definitely mean people can connect with these players. I think that connection will make each and every game - especially that the Matildas are involved - such a spectacle for everybody.
"When we've had some W-League and Matildas games here, Caitlin's always been the first to offer to come down locally and promote the game. We've always had young junior female players to help promote the game too and, just the way they look up to her, you can see that connection there. I remember specifically there was a little player from Albion Park, and I think that lights up Caitlin's eyes because she started out as an Albion Park junior and these girls look up to her.
"Caitlin's a wonderful ambassador for football, and a wonderful ambassador for the community and for our region."
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