The world is sitting up and taking note of the upcoming tournament in France with the hype across all nations, something that hasn't been seen before. 

Retired Matilda and Optus Sport Expert Alicia Ferguson-Cook has seen the change herself.

Recalling the preparations for her first World Cup, which came a year before the 2000 Olympics in Sydney, the Matildas prepared at the Australian Institute of Sport since the program became fulltime in 1998.

"So in terms of our preparation for '99 World Cup, we did have world-class facilities," she said.

"Our program was full time because we got government funding through the Olympic program and the OAP."

Ferguson-Cook had moved down to Canberra, a city she describes as having lots of roundabouts and a man-made lake, in January 1998 at the age of 16 after accepting a residential scholarship to the AIS Football Program.

While competing in front of a home crowd at the Sydney Olympics is a moment Ferguson-Cook will never forget, playing at two World Cups is close to her heart. 

"I can't go past competing in a home Olympics in Sydney, and we're walking out at the Olympic Stadium, nothing compares but being at a World Cup is a very, very special experience," she said. 

While she was along for the ride at her maiden World Cup in the United States being just 17 at the time, Ferguson might be remembered for a particular reason. 

Then Matildas coach Greg Brown decided to start her for the final group stage game against China.

"I got really emotional and ended up kicking a Chinese girl then got sent off in the first minute and a half," Ferguson-Cook said.