PORT Macquarie has been announced as one of five regional locations who could house international teams ahead of the 2023 Women's World Cup in Australia and New Zealand.
While Newcastle missed out as a host city, the Hastings is in the running along with Coffs Harbour, Maitland, Cessnock and Speers Point to welcome teams to their areas as part of training base hubs.
Football Mid North Coast chairman Mike Parsons said the announcement from Northern NSW Football was one of the greatest things to happen to sports lovers in regional NSW.
"This Women's World Cup is just the pinnacle of all the movements and all the amount of years women have strived to have equality in sport and across society in general," he said.
Parsons said potentially being a training hub location could "ignite our game of football", but it also served as an opportunity to acknowledge the great contributions of women to the sport.
"It's an outstanding opportunity for Australia, let alone our game of football."
"This Women's World Cup is just the pinnacle of all the movements and all the amount of years women have strived to have equality in sport and across society in general."- Football Mid North Coast chairman Mike Parsons
With the Sovereign Hills sporting development underway, the news provides an added incentive to start construction so the complex is complete by the tournament kick-off on July 10, 2023.
However, Mr Parsons admitted Port Macquarie's Regional Stadium was part of the original bid.
"The ideal scenario would be to have our own standalone football-significant stadium and modern facilities for these young ladies to train at and acclimatise to our conditions," he said.
"It identifies the untapped potential for sports tourism that I've been espousing for so many years."
Mr Parsons said the benefits of hosting international teams were unquantifiable which would see a financial injection of millions into the local economy.
"It really highlights the benefits of having top-class sporting infrastructure; it's just as important as industrial areas, major shopping centres and community facilities," he said.
"It identifies the untapped potential for sports tourism that I've been espousing for so many years."- Mike Parsons
"It alerts everybody to the fact we are a destination for all ages and all types."
For many years passionate football fans on the Mid-North Coast have dared to dream of seeing top-class sporting teams in their own backyard.
It could soon be a reality.
"We dreamed of participation and success at a World Cup on the men's level, but this one would even exceed [captain, coach, commentator and champion of football in Australia] Johnny Warren's dream of success [with the men's team]," Mr Parsons said.
"Mainstream sport is now recognising and validating women's participation and contribution and it's not before time."
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