quentinbryceThe Matildas take off this evening for China as they endeavour to qualify for their 5th successive World Cup and on the way take out the 2010 AFC Women's Asian Cup.

One interested onlooker down at Government House will be the Governor General of Australia and the Patron of Women's Football, Her Excellency Quentin Bryce.

Her Excellency was announced as the women's football Patron on September 2009 just ahead of the start of season two of the Westfield W-League.  "I have long had a deep commitment for opportunities for women to participate in sport" said Ms Bryce.  "Like all Australians I am mad about most sports and I have always been very keen about women's sport."

Since the Matildas quarter-final run in the 2007 World Cup in China, womens football has had a resurgence in this country.  The development of the sport has been rapid with the elite footballers pathway crystalising through high performance squads, Institute of Sport programs and of course the Westfield W-League.

Her Excellency is well aware of what her patronage can do for the sport. "It is about using the many opportunities I have out in the community to talk about these issues and to encourage women's football wherever I can.  I am absolutely delighted to see how many young women are taking up what many us would think at are non-traditional sports for women."

Although she has never played the sport, the Governor General has been enthusiastic in learning about football and its passionate participants.

matildascelebrate"I am a girl from the 50s where there were really very few opportunities for us in sport.  I think that is why I feel so passionately about this." said Ms Bryce. "I enjoy the speed and the skill and the fantastic spirit of competition. I could never imagine playing football or some of the sports the young girls play now.  But I now how much they enjoy it and how important it is in their lives."

Despite the incredible steps taken, like the Matildas pay deal in late January, there is still a ways to go for the sport. "It needs support, funding, encouragement and terrific coaching."

But hopefully with the support of Her Excellency and the continued success of the national team, women's football will soon become the number one women's sport in Australia.

"I send my warmest greetings to all the women who participate in women's football.  It is exciting to see it's growth, development and what that means in Australia."