Women’s World Cup at home is a dream for young Matildas

Matildas defender Karly Roestbakken (Photo: matildas.com.au)

The last 18 months have been massive for Karly Roestbakken. The young Matilda co-captained Canberra United in the recent W-League season and now plays for Norwegian Toppserien club LSK Kvinner. At the international level, she captained the U-19 Australian team at the 2019 AFC Championship in Thailand.

But nothing beats a World Cup appearance.

Having already had a taste of the experience in last year’s FIFA Women’s World Cup in France, the chance of playing in the 2023 tournament in Australia and New Zealand is one she doesn’t want to miss.

“Not a lot of players can say that they played in a World Cup at home,” she said.

In an exclusive interview with Hatch, Roestbakken applauded the work by both the Australian and New Zealand Football Federations to bring the World Cup down under.

“[They] obviously worked really well, and they worked so hard to get it for us.”

“Everyone was just really excited about it.”

Roestbakken, a defender, knows too well the excitement that surrounds such a major tournament. Initially on standby for the Matildas squad in the lead-up to the 2019 Cup, she received a surprise late call-up to replace the injured Laura Alleway (now Brock).

“Obviously I was trying to get selected for the squad,” she says, “but it was a real big shock for me because they had new coaches and everything come in.

“I was so excited because out of everyone they could have picked, they went with me, and I haven’t really worked with them before.

“They took a big leap and … I guess they kind of trusted me.”

Roestbakken debuted late in the Matildas’ second group match as they miraculously came back from a 2-0 deficit to win 3-2 and kept their playoff hopes alive.

She says it was “awesome” to play before more than 17,000 spectators in the game dubbed the Miracle of Montpellier.

“The feeling and the pride that you get, you can’t even explain.”

“It was a bit of nerves, it was a bit of everything.”

Roestbakken went on to appear in the starting eleven for the Matildas’ 4-1 victory over Jamaica and came on during extra time in their Round of 16 game against Norway, where they went down in the penalty shootout.

The 2023 World Cup now awaits the Matildas, and this time it’ll be on their turf.

Roestbakken was among many who cheered back in June when FIFA announced Australia and New Zealand would co-host the tournament.

“We were all just so excited.”

“Just to play in the World Cup is insane, but to have it at home, like that’s really special.”

The 2023 tournament will be a history-making event in women’s football. It will be the first Women’s World Cup held in the southern hemisphere and across multiple countries, and the first senior FIFA tournament in Oceania.

It will also be the first 32-team edition of the women’s tournament.

The opportunity to play in such a significant event on home soil is something Roestbakken is relishing.

“To be able to play it in front of friends and family, that’s probably the biggest thing for me.

“That’s something that you can never really take back and it would be such an honour.”

Particularly appealing to her is the challenge of playing against powerhouse nations like the United States.

“I think that that’s really exciting. And I think that playing against the best … that’s what you want to do, you want to play against the best so I think that would be a really exciting match to play.”

“But obviously, team-wise, we’d want to take it out and win it.”

2023 is still three years away, a long time in football. For now, Roestbakken is focused on her season with LSK as they chase their seventh consecutive Toppserien title. Then there’s the Tokyo Olympics, for which she helped the Matildas qualify.

She expects the next few years to be more eventful than the past two, but the 19-year-old is taking it all in her stride and welcomes the challenges to come.

James Thompson
About James Thompson 18 Articles
Sports writer and rugby league fanatic. Carn the Maroons. Also enjoy geography, war history, and critiquing logos.