'So much joy': why hosting the FIFA Women's World Cup is great for our daughters

This could be a game changer for equality.
This could be a game changer for equality. Photo: Supplied

When I told my daughters Australia and New Zealand had won their bid to hold the next FIFA Women's World Cup they literally jumped in the air.  

"Can we go?" my eight-year-old asked. "Hell yeah!" I told her. We both whooped. 

This time last year the FIFA Women's World Cup was happening in France, which meant a lot of very early starts for my family of soccer fans. We cuddled up under blankets and when Sam Kerr scored we all leapt off the sofa with joy. 

Photo: Supplied
Photo: Supplied 

I'll confess that it was the first time I've taken much notice of the Women's World Cup. Perhaps that's because of the growing interest and investment in women's sport. Or perhaps it was because I had skin in the game.  

My daughters, who are now eight and 10, have played soccer for our local club for a few years. They love the game and put heart and soul into every match. For them, watching women play soccer at elite level was exciting and inspiring. Their enthusiasm for the game and the competition was infectious. I was hooked. I started to understand why soccer has been called the beautiful game. 

When I was a kid girls didn't play soccer. It wasn't an option for girls at my school. It was just simply something that boys did. I didn't know then that sexism within the FA made it difficult for women to play (the British FA banned women from playing soccer from 1921 until the 1970s) and that a lack of investment in the women's game was trickling down to young girls. 

Things are very different now. Not only can girls play soccer, but they also have a plethora of talented women to look up to. The Matilda's are living legends to my girls and to thousands of other young girls around Australia. 

But we still have a way to go. It's often subtle, but we're still regularly confronted with the stereotype that soccer is a boy's sport. In fact, both of my daughters have both been told by their male classmates that, "girls can't play football". 

Fortunately, one of the things that they've gained from team sport is the courage to stand up for themselves. And they have Sam Kerr, Australia's all-time top scorer on their side. 

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We've been lucky enough to see the Matilda's play a number of times. It brings me so much joy to watch my girls jump out of their seats to celebrate a goal. It's more that though – it normalises the excellence of women's sport. 

And now the World Cup is coming to Australia and New Zealand! 

It's very exciting. But it also gives Australia a great opportunity to level the playing field once and for all. It's a chance to shine a light on women's sport. It's a chance to reach for equality in terms of funding and participation across all sport. 

This could be a game changer for equity. It doesn't get any more beautiful than that.