THE state government has pledged to deliver “as many Matildas games … as we possibly can” in the Hunter as the push to make Newcastle the side’s home base gains steam.
Wallsend MP Sonia Hornery took the matter to Parliament on Thursday, seeking a commitment from NSW Sports Minister Stuart Ayres to help make the city a home base.
“The Wallabies have long used Coffs Harbour as a base for training in the lead up to the Test season,” Ms Hornery said.
“The Hunter could offer the Matildas the perfect spot for a permanent home base.
Responding to that motion, government whip and Camden MP Chris Patterson applauded Ms Hornery’s commitment and pointed to plans to develop a sports and entertainment precinct at Broadmeadow as a step towards the city hosting more major events.
“Absolutely you have our support … to help you with your vision and your passion to make sure we see as many Matildas games up there as we possibly can,” Mr Patterson said.
The debate, which came a day before the side play Japan in Jordan in the AFC Women’s Asian Cup, centred on last September’s success hosting a match between the Australians and Brazil.
That game’s crowd set a record for Matildas match attendance on home soil, lighting the fire for them to link with the city.
Gosford MP Liesl Tesch applauded Newcastle lord mayor Nuatali Nelmes for her quick push to link the city with the side after that win.
“You [Matildas] are our heroes, and Newcastle stood up and cheered for you … 16,829, on a Tuesday night,” she said.
Newcastle MP Tim Crakanthorp said the city’s size and fervour for the Knights and Jets made it uniquely qualified.
“We have the resources,” he said. “Newcastle loves its sport, loves its home teams even more.
“But I can tell you if we had the Matildas, we would be loving it more and more and more … we would love it more than any other city in this country.”
Football Federation Australia chief executive David Gallop would not be drawn in September on whether the side would consider Newcastle for a home base, instead acknowledging the city’s “long history in football and its support for the game”.
“We know the players felt the crowd was a big factor in their victory over Brazil,” he said.