First Person: Football fever strikes Sydney

Sandip Hor | @notintownlive | 23 Jul 2023, 12:41 pm

First Person: Football fever strikes Sydney Sydney

Photo Courtsey: Sandip Hor

Australia is a sports loving nation and my home city Sydney, which shines year-round with an action-packed calendar of happenings, has a proven track record of successfully hosting mega international sporting events, the Summer Olympics in 2000 and some of the Asian Cup Football matches including the final in 2015 are two from a long list that overwhelmingly impressed the sport-fans worldwide.

The harbour city is struck again with the football fever while staging 11 matches of the FIFA Women’s World Cup 2023 tournament hosted jointly by Australia and neighbours New Zealand.

The Sydney schedule includes the final on 20 August, one quarter final on 12 August ,second semi-final on 16 Aug and tournament opening match on Australian soil played between Australia and Ireland on Thursday 20 July evening. Stadium Australia, located within the Sydney Olympic Park precinct, is the venue for five games including these the four key ones, while Sydney Football Stadium will be for the others.

Sporting experts are claiming there has never been more interest in the women’s game like this event participated by some of the world’s biggest stars in women's football from 32 nations. For the last few months football aficionados in Sydney have been constantly talking about this tournament and debating who will be the winner this time. Nearly all tickets have long been sold out predicting a record stadium attendance and with television viewing figures across the globe expected to skyrocket on match days.

To punch sporting spirit with fun and entertainment, one of Sydney’s most popular tourist destinations, Darling Harbour’s Tumbalong Park - an outdoor event hub where locals gather for leisure – has become the home for FIFA Fan Festival during the tournament period where fans will be able to test their football skills, watch live performances and indulge in one the delicious food and beverage offerings in this iconic location.

Not to be missed there is celebrity chef Josh Niland’s Sydney Tuna Cheeseburger that he has created specifically for the FIFA Fan Festival. Noting the huge interest for the tournament, local councils in some other parts of the city have set up big screens for football fans to watch the matches live and cheer their favourite teams with family and friends in a festive way.

I was personally lucky enough to be inside Stadium Australia along with 75000 others  to watch the opening game between Australia and Ireland and cheer the Matildas (the nickname of Australia’s national football team) to a 1-0 thrilling victory.

That night, the atmosphere inside the stadium was electrifying with tens of thousands of Aussie fans, many dressed in green and gold attire and carrying national flags bursting into thunderous roars every time the ball rolled into the Irish half. There were supporters for the Irish team too, some flashing their team colour – green, white and orange. Most of them were from the Irish diaspora in Sydney, though some die-hard fans had flown from their homeland combining holiday with watching games to support their national team.

After Australia scored the goal, the loud jubilation of the supporters reminded me of the joyous moments that I had experienced earlier in this stadium when Aussie star athlete Cathy Freeman won the gold in the Sydney Olympics in 2000 and when James Troisi scored the winning goal against South Korea to win the Asian Cup in 2015.


While queuing up to enter the stadium, I bumped into a couple from Dublin, visiting their cousin in Sydney who had purchased the match tickets for them knowing their keen interest for the game. After arriving in Sydney, the visiting couple had already admired the city's natural beauty on a ferry ride, captured spectacular shots of the iconic Opera House and the Harbour Bridge which are recognised as the face of Sydney and explored the nearby Rocks quarter.

When they asked what are the other ‘must see and dos’ I suggested them some of my favourites which are the Bridge Climb, surfing at the Bondi Beach if not too cold, day trip to the Blue Mountains to see the ‘Three Sisters’ and visiting Little India in Harris Park to try a wide variety of Indian food. I also suggested they check for more ideas. I am sure they will find other things to do in Sydney which lives with the reputation of rewarding every visitor whatever their taste buds be.

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