Melbourne City's Kiwi star Rebekah Stott says New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Arden has been very supportive of the joint Women's World Cup bid for 2023.
“She’s [Jacinda Ardern] been so cool with it all [Women's World Cup bid],” Stott, a defender at City and a New Zealand international, tells FTBL.
“She [Ardern] always kind of sends us messages of support and the like.
“I’m sure she’s right behind us.
“And to get the bid, it would bring tourism to New Zealand as well.
"It would be amazing if we could get it.”
Certainly, the Australia/New Zealand 2023 bid is strong on paper.
Though, as Australia knows from bitter experience after bidding for the 2018 FIFA Men’s World Cup, a strong bid and a winning one can be two different things.
However, such a respected Prime Minister on the world stage as Jacinda Ardern is a timely boost for the local Women's World Cup bid, with the winner be announced on June 25.
"Participation of women and girls in sport and leadership makes New Zealand stronger as a nation, and we're keen to showcase that by hosting the FIFA Women's World Cup 2023," Prime Minister Ardern said in April.
The four bidders - the other three being Brazil, Colombia, and Japan - will produce a 10-minute presentation for the FIFA council.
The Women’s World Cup bid for Australia and New Zealand 2023 is special for two other reasons, says Stott.
Firstly, the charismatic 26-year-old has played for New Zealand at a Women's World Cup against a host nation, back in 2015. She remembers well the intoxicating atmosphere that was created by the home fans.
Stott even scored at a Women's World Cup, a thumping drive to give New Zealand the lead against China PR in a group stage meeting.
And second, Stott’s football career has largely been played with a foot in both Australian and New Zealand camps.
The defender has played for a handful of Australian clubs and represented Australia at the youth level before opting for her country of birth, where she’s become one of the most influential Ferns.
“Canada 2015 was the first Women's World Cup I went to and it was pretty amazing,” she says from lockdown in Melbourne.
“The support was pretty incredible at that Cup, obviously being close to the US there was a lot of American supporters there too.
“We had big crowds and playing against Canada in one of our games it was huge!” she recalls.
The game ended an entertaining 0-0 draw at a rainy Edmonton in front of over 35,000 fans.
“They [Canadian women’s football] had a big boost from it and are doing well in world football in the women’s game.
“Hopefully we can get onto that too if we get the bid.”
Melbourne City academy coach Alex Smith has coached for two years in the Australian W-League as an assistant with Brisbane Roar and now City’s W-League side.
He sees the Women's World Cup as vital for ambitious young female players in order to inspire them, and to push clubs to improve standards even more.
"The world’s attention will also be on us, and our W-League can only benefit from that,” he told FTBL
"I would hope there would be increased interest and investment in the league and female footballer development if we were to get the Women's World Cup.
“Three years is a long time, and attention would have to be on the women’s game domestically.
"What better time to make sure our domestic competition is flying come 2023?
"What better time for clubs to produce a talent for the Women's World Cup?"
That said, Stott isn’t getting too carried away with the bid’s chances, given Australia/ New Zealand isn’t the only bidder for this Women's World Cup in three years' time.
And despite great gains from the two nations and co-bidders around pay parity, nothing is certain.
The other three bidding nations’ are likely to have strong cases too (Brazil in particular, which hosted a men’s World Cup just six years ago.).
But the powerful Stott, who was born in Papamoa, New Zealand, is desperate for good news in June for a Women’s World Cup on her home patches.
“I hope we get it so bad. It would be incredible.
“And yes, it’s a bit strange the fact we’re doing the bid together, but for me, it’s a real home Women's World Cup because I get both nations.
“Both countries mean a lot to me. And Jacinda Ardern, yeah, she’s pretty cool, too."