The Australian schools kicking goals during the FIFA Women’s World Cup tournament


Australia’s national women’s football team, The Matildas, played round 16 of the FIFA Women’s World Cup match against Denmark at Stadium Australia on Monday.

EducationDaily takes a look at how Australia and New Zealand jointly hosting the tournament has impacted schools across the country.

How it all kicked off

Australia and New Zealand won the right to host the FIFA Women’s World Cup in June 2020. The world was in lockdown, students were homeschooling, and the producer of a world cup football match looked like a very distant goal indeed.

But fast-forward to 2023 and a bid that cost an estimated $6 million has now sparked a rumoured $100 million investment.

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Looking at the experience in France, where the 2019 tournament was held, the benefits of hosting the Women’s World Cup include giving women’s sport a major publicity boost, getting the Matildas a spotlight on the world’s sporting stage, and securing funding for infrastructure, such as stadiums, sporting venues and transport, to facilitate the event program.

The longer-term impact of these development plans is referred to as Legacy ‘23 and the $365 million pot includes donations, like the $4 million in funding given by the Queensland government for a Queensland Women’s Football Legacy Fund.

Lessons in women’s football

Today’s major sporting events typically bring attention to the women playing within them, with awareness raised around pay inequality, women’s rights, and oppressive regimes in different parts of the world. The Women’s World Cup is another opportunity to shine a light on these issues – and some schools within Australia are taking the learning to another level.

Football Australia delivers football programs all over Australia with a Festival of Football, self-funded programs connecting schools with their local football clubs, and a Sporting Schools program in partnership with both Matildas and Socceroos players and A-League Men & A-League Women players, which supports young students in transitioning from school to the FA’s Football Junior Pathway.

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For the Women’s World Cup, a Football Fever campaign has been added, with additional free teacher resources to help schools coordinate their own world cup.

Go the wests

In Western Australia, Balga Senior High School was recognised for its prominent female football team as girls from its Girls Football Enrichment Program were attend training sessions with the Haitian Women’s World Cup team, and carry
the flag for their match against Denmark. It was a privilege that gave the girls a rare insight into the logistics and work ethic behind elite sports, and ignited the spark for a few future Matildas.

WA’s Safety Bay Senior High School’s Specialist Football Program was also recognised with the school hosting a ‘ Women’s World Cup Aspiration Day — Dream it… believe it… achieve it…’ event, supported by Football West and the Department of Education Western Australia. The event was attended by 70 young female athletes from four other local high schools, with athletes showcasing their skills as teams represented World Cup countries. The mini tournament covered mindfulness and yoga to begin instilling a holistic approach to success, even at a young age.

Indigenous schools scoring a free kick

Schools in the Northern Territory have received more than $70,000 of FIFA Football for Schools funding to coincide with the competition. It’s the first state in Australia to receive such funding and Football Australia CEO, James Johnson said, “more than 45 percent of students identify as First Nations in the Northern Territory, with a vast majority of schools in remote or very remote areas”.

“We want to ensure we’re connecting with these students and providing them with opportunities to engage with football, enjoying the many benefits our game can bring including improved health and wellbeing, creating lifelong friendships and uniting community,” he said.

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FIFA’s strategy is to encourage life skills through football drills and this funding is going directly towards scheduling football programs in school curriculums, OOSH and school holiday activities, remote footballing roadshows and other major events.

Across the water in New Zealand more than 14,000 students have been united by the game, thanks to the Kōtuitui program, which teaches culture and collective identity through hosting world events like the Women’s World Cup.

With a festive calendar of creative educational events that have helped the nation, young and old, come together in support of Australia and the Matildas, many budding athletes across the nation will no doubt have their fingers firmly crossed for victory tonight

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By Charlie
Charlie Writes is a Sydney based, London born, Caribbean writer, interviewer and poet. A colourful 27 year career has taken Charlie from typing poems on the spot on her 1970’s typerwiter named June, to donning a hard hat as a roving reporter in the construction industry. All while living out her favourite quote that the greatest adventures begin with a simple conversation.