Australia to co-host Women's World Cup in 2023, but what does it mean for women's sport locally

Growing numbers: Hockey hopes to benefit from Australia's successful Women's World Cup bid by encouraging more teenage female participation.
Growing numbers: Hockey hopes to benefit from Australia's successful Women's World Cup bid by encouraging more teenage female participation.

SPORTING codes around the Hastings will look to benefit from Australia's successful 2023 FIFA Women's World Cup bid.

With women's sport likely to be at the forefront of our minds over the next three years, now is the perfect time for codes to push to grow their female numbers - particularly in the 14-17 age bracket.

Port Macquarie-Hastings Hockey Association is perhaps the best positioned to benefit from female sports exposure.

President Simon Thresher said hockey as a whole had more girls playing than boys, but it also resulted in a higher churn rate.

"Hockey in NSW is probably a 60-40 split from girls to boys, but we might have 40 registrations and 40 per cent will disappear in that teenage age bracket," he said.

"A lot of that is due to bullying and mental health because girls are going through a lot of physical changes during that age.

"But what I have found from discussions over the dinner table with my daughters is even they've been talking about how good it is to have a football World Cup in our backyard."

"But what I have found from discussions over the dinner table with my daughters is even they've been talking about how good it is to have a football World Cup in our backyard."

Simon Thresher

Thresher said women's rugby league star and Manning product Holli Wheeler grew up playing hockey before she transitioned into rugby league.

While it was hockey's loss, at least Wheeler stayed involved in women's sport.

"We're not losing women in sport, we're losing them to other codes which isn't a bad thing," he said.

"It just means in hockey's case that we have to have that good engagement with girls and their parents that they know our sport is on at the same place at the same time every week."

Port Macquarie Pirates' women's coach Lisa Vogel said rugby union only started two years ago with a development series for girls aged 14 to 16.

Two years on, that same concept has morphed into a Friday night competition involving three clubs.

The success of the Australian women's sevens team has coincided with growth in women's rugby.

"So many people might say 'the boys play on Friday night', but now it's 'the kids play on Friday night'."

Lisa Vogel

It is hoped football also might see that in the next three years.

"We have the current Olympic gold medallists in the sevens the Pearls who are always a shining light for a lot of our girls and a great bunch of role models," Vogel said.

"Charlotte Caslick was just a teenage girl living out on a farm and now she's an Olympic gold medallist so any opportunity to shine the light on what is out there and available is so important.

"The soccer World Cup will be an amazing opportunity for them to do that, but of course we are pushing for Tokyo 2021 where our Pearls will be back hoping to be on top of the world again."

Vogel said using the correct terminology was an important part of the growth of any code.

"So many people might say 'the boys play on Friday night', but now it's 'the kids play on Friday night'," she said.

"That helps the girls feel valued so they know there is the option in sport as they go into those periods of time in their life.

"It's about making the girls know the importance of physical activity which helps them feel valued, particularly in the under-10, 12 and 14 age groups."

This story Why Women's World Cup bid success is important for other codes first appeared on Port Macquarie News.