Former Socceroo Craig Foster has put Australian politicians on notice, that their vocal support for the Matildas should be backed up by better funding for the world game.
Foster called on government to step up their efforts in supporting soccer's growth in Australia at the launch of a new community pitch in Sydney's west which was funded by EA Sports' FC Futures and PCYC girl's grassroots partnership.
The outdoor, enclosed pitch plastered with Sam Kerr's name - an EA Sports ambassador - is an example of private investment helping grow and develop women's soccer, and while government is contributing, Foster believes more can be done in the coming years.
First, he implored Football Australia to reorganise its set-up of the sport, to have better trickle-down impact when funding is received, but then, he said it'll be up to governments to step up to the plate in a bigger way than ever - especially after the success of this home Women's World Cup.
"Every MP who's held up a 'go Matildas' sign or put out a tweet saying 'Tillies till I die', there's receipts and I've tucked them all away, and I'll be coming for you in the future, because there's a price to pay when you're doing that," Foster told The Canberra Times.
"I heard sports minister Anika Wells recently saying that the game itself still has challenges to overcome. What she was saying is she has five different proposals for funding on her desk from football, because it still has this disparate structure, whereas she'll have one from AFL, one from rugby union, and so on - and that's very true.
"People in football often are screaming that the game doesn't get enough funding, and my first response is, well, you need to sort your structures out first. We need to have a coordinated national agenda, and that has to come immediately after this World Cup.
"When that happens though, we'll be calling on all governments including territories, states and federal to remember how they felt at this World Cup."
Foster said making the most of the current World Cup momentum is crucial with all eyes on Australia, and the Matildas.
"Australia have just woken up to the real power of football and of a FIFA World Cup," he said.
"We're all seduced, captivated, and beguiled by the Matildas.
"The question for all of us, including the ACT, is what do we do next? If this is how we feel as a country, if this is how it brings us together, then what is it that we're going to do to ensure that we can have more of this?"
Foster believes this Women's World Cup is the best chance Australia has ever had to win the FIFA tournament, and the way the country has been swept up in Matildas fever is like nothing seen before.
With the Matildas' path to the final in Sydney on August 20 all set to all take place in Australia too, he urged those not already on the bandwagon to jump aboard, and make their voice heard.
"The girls have gotten to quarter-finals three times before, the men have never got past round of 16 and the men are nowhere near close to winning a World Cup," Foster said.
"This is the most experienced, most professional team ever, and the first generation that they're all playing at top clubs in Europe. So they are battled-hardened, and really importantly, they are playing at home.
"Home advantage is incredibly valuable. It is a huge boost. But if you're there you better come out with a voice because this is serious, an opportunity to win a FIFA World Cup."
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