Thursday 27 July 2023, 14:00

Danish dynamite driving devotees Down Under

On the surface, it may seem Australia’s association with Denmark is minimal at best. Dig a little deeper, however, and the opposite is true. Australia FIFA Women’s World Cup™ story began against Denmark in their very first outing at the tournament at Sweden ’95. A host of Aussies subsequently enjoyed stints in Denmark, led by the pioneering Alison Forman, and followed by the likes of Heather Garriock, Emily van Egmond and Elise Kellond-Knight. That pathway was reversed when Danish Women’s World Cup players Cathrine Paaske and Julie Rydahl helped Sydney FC to maiden championship glory over a decade ago. Australia and Denmark were even drawn together at the past two FIFA World Cups™. There is unique connection away from the pitch with Australia’s only locally-born royalty a prominent member of the Danish royal family in Hobart-born Mary, Crown Princess of Denmark. This unlikely connection is about to be strengthened at the FIFA Women’s World Cup Australia & New Zealand 2023™.

Four hundred kilometres south of Perth sits a picturesque coastal town improbably named Denmark. And by a quirk of the draw, Denmark will be based in Perth where they were drawn against China PR and Haiti in their Women’s World Cup return following a 16-year absence. The small tourist town of Denmark has not missed the opportunity with plans in place to decorate the township red and white in honour of the De rød-hvide (The Red and White). The Denmark FA (DBU) has responded in kind by launching ‘The Kangarooligans’, with a goal of narrowing the 16,000-kilometre gap and connecting Danish fans (back home in Denmark) with Australians and vice-versa. The goal of the campaign is to connect Danish fans with Australians (or Australian-Danes living in Australia) and to encourage and educate Australians to support Denmark during the tournament. “I saw The Kangarooligans I thought it would be a fun way of supporting them,” said Denmark fan Ole Christian Bandholm Nielsen. “It’s a great idea to support our team so far from home, and cool to do it with help of Australians.”

With the help of Tourism WA, players from the junior and senior association from the town of Denmark secured access to a closed training session of the Danish team. “We feel a special affinity with the Danes for obvious reasons, and though – of course – we’ll be hoping the Matildas win the tournament, we [are] cheering just as loudly for the Danish Team,” said Denmark Shire President Ceinwen Gearon. “And, if both sides reach the final, we’ll be quite conflicted!” Denmark could yet have another opportunity to further build relations should they face Australia in the tournament. Perhaps Princess Mary might be on hand for such a special occasion.

Denmark v China: Group D - FIFA Women's World Cup Australia & New Zealand 2023