Port Stephens football clubs look set to see a surge in player numbers in the next three years following Australia and New Zealand's successful bid to host one of the sport's premier international events - the FIFA Women's World Cup.
The news that the two nations will host the 2023 World Cup could not have been more welcome to aspiring Port Stephens footballers, many of which will be largely devoid of watching and playing the sport they love in 2020 due to COVID-19.
For Raymond Terrace Soccer Club players Bethany Gibson, 10, Violet Spackman, 12, Janali Haynes, 12, Grace Medway, 11, and Evangeline Gibson, 12, they could not be more excited for the World Cup to head down under.
"It's really exciting," the girls all said while draped in green and gold and sporting gear from the Matildas, Australia's premier women's team. Each of the Terrace payers have walked out on to the pitch with the Matildas prior to a game.
"We all want to go and watch as many games as we can," added Evangeline, who has been playing since she was 6.
Early in the year the Trans Tasman nations submitted an historic co-confederation bid to host the first-ever 32-nation FIFA Women's World Cup. They were told in the early hours of the morning on June 26 that their bid had been successful.
Newcastle is among 12 host cities in the successful bid and could host many as five games, including a play-off for third, at McDonald Jones Stadium.
Additionally, the city's Adamstown Oval, No.2 Sportsground, Magic Park and Darling Street Oval will be used as training grounds before and during the tournament. Cessnock and Maitland are expected to host teams for training camps.
It is expected the successful bid will accelerate the advancement of women's football in Australia and New Zealand.
Raymond Terrace Soccer Club president Peter Petryk believed clubs across the region could experience a spike in player registrations as interest in football grew in the lead up to the World Cup.
"In 2006 there was a huge hype around the Australian men's team when they played in their first World Cup in 30 years and we saw
the popularity of football grow," Petryk said. "I expect we'll see something similar for the 2023 women's World Cup. I think it will create a lot of interest, especially among girls.
"Hopefully this will lead for a push for Australia to host the men's World Cup."
Football Federation Australia president Chris Nikou said a co-hosted FIFA Women's World Cup would "supercharge the development of women's football across the region and unlock significant investment in the game".
Raymond Terrace Soccer Club and Nelson Bay Football Club have each decided not to field teams in the 2020 Newcastle Football competition due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.
Tilligerry Football Club teams resumed training early in June and will begin the 2020 season this weekend.