Soccer stars to train in Coffs

AFTER hosting a number of international over the years, Coffs Harbour's love affair with the round ball is set to continue long into the future.

After last week's announcement that the Matilda's, Australia's women's team will be calling the Coffs Coast home for 2007 not only for the three Olympic qualifying matches at the BCU International Stadium but also spending a significant amount of time in camp in Coffs Harbour prior to this September's FIFA Women's World Cup in China.

In the past, the Matildas have played a friendly on the carpet like turf of the Stadium against France in 2001 while the venue also famously held the Qantas Socceroos' preliminary qualification matches for the 2002 FIFA World Cup.

Coffs Harbour is also proudly the current home of the National Youth Championships for both boys and girls.

Football Federation Australia (FFA) chief executive Ben Buckley couldn't be happier with the deal struck that sees the Matildas play all their home Olympic qualifiers in town.

"We are very pleased that Coffs Harbour will host the Matildas in their vital qualification matches and on behalf of the FFA I would like to sincerely thank the Coffs Harbour City Council, and also the NSW Government for their continuing support for football in this state," he said.

"The last few years have been wonderful for Australian football and the Matildas have played a significant role with their on-field success, notably in qualifying for the FIFA Women's World Cup.

"The training facilties and stadium in Coffs Harbour are first class and will provide the team with every opportunity for success in these crucial matches."

A strong showing from the Matildas is expected considering the team is currently ranked at an all-time high of 14 in the FIFA Women's world rankings.

"Coffs Harbour has had the pleasure of hosting the Matildas in 2001 with their last visit attracting a crowd in excess of 5,000 spectators," a proud Coffs Harbour City Councillor Bill Palmer said.

"With these matches being crucial qualification matches for the Beijing Olympics, I'm sure we're going to see even more supporters out at the BCU International Stadium for their upcoming internationals.

"With our very own Matilda, Jenna Tristram, being a likely part of the squad, I'm positive the community will have even more reason to get behind the team for the games."

The Matildas will debut in Coffs Harbour against Hong Kong on Saturday 7 April, followed by DPR Korea on Sunday 10 June and the final home qualifying match against Chinese Taipei on Sunday 12 August.

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