World Cup visits Wendouree

June 23, 2023 BY

Next generation: Eleven-year-old Violet and 12-year-old Stella got a close look at the FIFA Women’s World Cup trophy at their Forest Rangers clubrooms. Photo: EDWINA WILLIAMS

FOREST Rangers Soccer Club had a shiny, special visitor last Friday morning.

The FIFA Women’s World Cup trophy was displayed at the club’s Wendouree West home as part of the final leg of an international tour, and the Forest Rangers were the only regional Victorian club given the opportunity to host it.

Players and members, young and old, were able to check out the precious silverware behind glass and have their photo taken with it.

Forest Rangers treasurer Tracy Dean said it was hard to keep the event a secret, but seeing the players’ excitement was worth the wait.

“This is a once-in-a-lifetime for some of us,” she said. “But some of those young girls might get to touch and hold that trophy as part of a winning World Cup team one day.

“Our women’s participation has increased by 100 per cent, and that includes players, volunteers, and committee members.

“We’re all about inclusion at this club, and we give a huge thank you from the bottom of our hearts for this opportunity.”

Football Victoria’s executive manager of growth and inclusion Karen Pearce said having the Women’s World Cup on the doorstep of young regional athletes is an inspiration, especially to girls.

“Our Matildas are an incredible bunch of women, and they’ll do well,” she said. “We’re getting a whole lot of people enthusiastic about participating in and belonging to football.

“They don’t have to play. They could join the committee or come and watch, but what does that do? It drives our game.

“Everything we think about has a female lens on top of it. We’re working with a whole lot of clubs in different ways to drive equity. We’re aiming for 50/50 by 2027.”

Ms Pearce said the major world game trophy had already been to 32 countries, and New Zealand was next on the itinerary.

“The beautiful Forest Rangers got the last little hurrah in Australia at their wonderful facility,” she said.