Sunday 25 June 2023, 06:45

Sydney Harbour Bridge sparkles in unique celebration

  • Colourful celebration on world famous landmark

  • Twenty-five days until Australia & New Zealand 2023 marked

  • City will host Women’s World Cup Final on 20 August

There has surely never been a celebration quite like it in the 32-year history of the FIFA Women’s World Cup™. Colour, music, dancing, joyous football fans, and all set to an iconic and world-famous backdrop. Twenty-five days until the opening of the FIFA Women’s World Cup Australia & New Zealand 2023™ were marked in awe-inspiring style as thousands of football fans took the rare opportunity to celebrate atop the Sydney Harbour Bridge.

The sun came up on cue to provide a breathtaking vista from the bridge past the equally iconic Sydney Opera House and stretching out beyond the city’s sparkling harbour. “Sam Kerr!” exclaimed a couple of young fans in unhesitating unison when asked to name their favourite footballer. The pair were among many youngsters on the bridge donning green and gold in support of the Matildas. All 32 flags were paraded commencing with the Australian flag which was flanked by the nation’s indigenous flags representing the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities, while many of the attendees waved mini flags of each nation in a community display of colour and culture. A cavalcade of activities were on offer for supporters. A cut-out wall proved popular for photos, a media wall allowed fans to create content, there was the Fancestry quiz and, of course, Tazuni was on hand for hugs, photos and high-fives.

The tournament’s infectious ‘Unity Beat’ provided a catchy backing track to the activities, while fans were also treated to an exclusive sneak-peak of the tournament’s Official Song, Do It Again – BENEE ft. Mallrat. At the heart of the action a giant 17m long “Unity Jersey” was marched across the Sydney Harbour Bridge, an immense representation of the tournaments’ “Beyond Greatness” slogan and distinctive cultural elements, with all 32 nations symbolised via a radial motif.

While the event drew wide and varied grassroots support, there were also well-known names. Hosted by Amy Duggan, the former Matildas’ star was joined by FIFA Council Member and New Zealand Football President Johanna Wood, Head of FIFA Women’s World Cup Rhiannon Martin, Football Australia CEO James Johnson, USA Women’s World Cup-winner Joy Fawcett, Australia and New Zealand legends Julie Dolan and Maia Jackman, plus several Beyond Greatness Champions among some of the well-known names joining in on the fun.

While youngsters laughed and revelled in the unique atmosphere, others such as Matildas’ first-ever captain Dolan were incredulous. “This is utterly extraordinary to witness and be a part of,” said Dolan, who was part of the groundbreaking generation that famously fund-raised just to wear the national colours. “I think every pioneering player would have dreamed of a World Cup for women, but I don’t think any of us ever imagined, firstly a Women’s World Cup on home soil, nor that the event would be big enough to warrant the closure of the Sydney Harbour Bridge. “This really sets the stage for what will be the ‘biggest dance’ in Women’s World Cup history.”

The Harbour City will be a centrepiece of the tournament with the world champions to be crowned on 20 August at Stadium Australia, exactly a month after the opening matchday, as Australia hosts Republic of Ireland in a front of an expected record local crowd. “How good is this – I never thought I would be standing on the Sydney Harbour Bridge like this,” said Jackman. “This tournament will be so inspirational and inspire so many people. If you don’t play football now, you will want to play after this.”

Rarely is ‘The Coathanger’ closed to traffic, but such a unique event signified the level of excitement Down Under as they prepare to welcome the world. This was no ordinary event but it is one that speaks to the nation’s eagerness to welcome the world for the globe’s greatest women’s football jamboree. The world has been notified – prepare yourself for a unique FIFA Women’s World Cup.