Zambia and Japan to kick off Women’s World Cup in Hamilton

Zambia will play Hamilton's first match of the 2023 Women's World Cup. Pictured is Zambian player Margaret Belemu, left, in a tussle with Brazil's Ludmila team during a match at the Olympic Games in Tokyo 2020.

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Zambia will play Hamilton’s first match of the 2023 Women’s World Cup. Pictured is Zambian player Margaret Belemu, left, in a tussle with Brazil’s Ludmila team during a match at the Olympic Games in Tokyo 2020.

Zambia and Japan will be the first teams to face off in Hamilton for the 2023 FIFA Women’s World Cup – an event which the mayor says will put the city in front of a global audience of one billion.

In Saturday night’s World Cup draw, it was revealed that the July 22 game will be the first of five at the Waikato Stadium, with teams, fans and spectators descending on Hamilton expected to be given a boost for the local economy.

The following matches will see Switzerland face Norway on July 25, Vietnam against the winners of Group A of the play-offs, Group E on July 27, Costa Rica against Zambia on July 31 and Sweden against Argentina on August 2. .

The Football Ferns kick off their campaign against Norway at Eden Park on July 20.

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LAWRENCE SMITH/STUFF

Carli Lloyd and Ian Wright give a press conference in Auckland ahead of the FIFA Women’s World Cup 2023 draw.

Hamilton & Waikato Tourism chief Nicola Greenwell expected an economic boost to the area and said an impact report would be written following the draw ‘to provide details of the number of visitors and the economic benefits the city and region will receive.”

“An event of this caliber not only provides excellent economic and community benefits during the event dates, but with the television coverage, the global profile the city will receive also has a lasting legacy,” she said. .

Greenwall was also confident that Hamilton’s accommodation and hospitality sectors, like elsewhere in the country currently struggling with staffing issues, will be able to handle an influx of visitors.

“The job market is proving difficult across the country at the moment in many sectors, but hopefully we will see some relief by the tournament,” she said.

Players, their teams, international representatives and national and international supporters are expected for the tournament.  Pictured is Japan's Yuika Sugasawa during the 2019 FIFA Women's World Cup in France.

Alex Grimm/Getty Images

Players, their teams, international representatives and national and international supporters are expected for the tournament. Pictured is Japan’s Yuika Sugasawa during the 2019 FIFA Women’s World Cup in France.

“Our regional tourism, events and hospitality operators are consummate professionals and we will no doubt provide exceptional service and manaakitanga to the teams, media, visitors and spectators during the tournament.

“The shortage of accommodation the city is facing – and this was evident before Covid – coupled with the scale of visitation around the tournament means that not only will our city accommodation providers all benefit from visitor nights, but our regions widest of Waikato and neighboring areas will also be.”

Greenwell’s optimism was echoed by Southgate.

She said it was too early to speculate on visitor numbers, but early ticket sales have hit record numbers and airline seats in New Zealand and Australia are “very heavily booked”.

“It will bring players, their teams, international representatives and domestic and international fans to Hamilton with it from all over the world,” Southgate said.

“If every visitor spent $200 a day in our city, that would be a lot of new money entering the economy and a huge boost for local businesses.

Hamilton Mayor Paula Southgate said the World Cup was a chance to showcase the city to a global television audience of up to a billion people.

Mike Walen/Supplied

Hamilton Mayor Paula Southgate said the World Cup was a chance to showcase the city to a global television audience of up to a billion people.

“While we know there has been pressure on the hospital sector, our local operators are preparing to provide the best welcome and service possible,” she said.

“They are delighted to have the chance to welcome visitors from all over the world.”

The council encourages people to research hotel, Air BnB and other options, and is also “looking at options around what we can do to provide more accommodation in and around the city”.

Hosting World Cup matches in Hamilton will also have another benefit, according to Sport Waikato chief Matthew Cooper.

“Holding major women’s sporting events helps show women and girls what is achievable and empowers young girls to think big,” he said.

“It also shows a wider audience why women’s sport deserves to be supported and defended – they are world-class players with as much talent and passion for their sport and their country as the men, and that deserves to be in the spotlight.”

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