France 2019 Women's World Cup
Women's World Cup in France presented Aussie Supporteroos with another opportunity to come together to play fans from other countries. Unlike the World Cup in Russia, this time it proved very difficult to find fan teams representing the countries that the Matildas faced, so most of the games were against local French teams.
The opening match took place in Valenciennes and was played against the local ultras who turned out to be very welcoming and gracious hosts. Five new female players joined Aussie Supporteroos as well as a family of four which included 5 and 8 year old boys. The match was played in the 9 v 9+2 format (the +2 being the boys). The all-male French team was quite skilled but they let us have some fun and after going down 3-0 at first, we finished with a 9-7 win.
The second match, in Montpellier, was meant to be played against a social team from an underprivileged community, on a dirt and rock pitch, the oldest in the city. Unfortunately, the timing of the match was too awkward for our opposition and only three players turned up.
But the friendly in Grenoble made up for the disappointment in Montpellier. The match was played on a full pitch in an 11 v 11 format against AS CEA Grenoble, a sports club organised by the numerous research scientists, particularly nuclear physicists, working in the city. It was another tough game against a skilled all-male team but we still managed to score 5 goals. Many new female and underage players debuted for Supporteroos that night and our young players impressed again. A-League CEO Greg O'Rourke was in attendance among other Aussie fans and he even refereed the second half of the match. This friendly was also very memorable because of the hospitality of the local team that put on a BBQ and drinks for us after the match. We socialised with the locals into the night and it was definitely a highlight of our France tour.
Our next friendly, in Nice, was quite an adventure, as the local team made up of OGC Nice ultras invited us to play at a stadium that turned out to have been booked for a children's football tournament. Our large team showed great patience and good humour as we followed the locals around Nice in search of an available field for almost three hours. Eventually, after the ultras tried to break down a steel gate of the third pitch but without success, we called it a forfeit, exchanged souvenirs and took a photo to commemorate the day.
Lyon was our final destination in France and it hosted three Aussie Supporteroos matches, all of them played at the Fan Zone pitch set up in the centre of the city, Place Bellecour. The first friendly, against The American Outlaws fan group, set a record for the number of Supporteroos that took the pitch in one game. Moreover, 23 of our 27 players were female, clearly showing that Aussie Supporteroos fully embraced the spirit of the Women's World Cup.
This friendly was such a big success that a mixed team from the local police force invited us to play a match against them two days later.
Our final friendly of the WWC campaign was played against an international team of primarily female football fans. We finished with a 4-2 win in a match cut short by torrential summer rain. A reporter from The Women's Game attended this final friendly and published an article about our community of football-playing fans.