Australia's Under-23 team have been given a boost ahead of the Games
Australia's Under-23 team have been given a boost ahead of the Games Image Credit: AFC

Dubai: The Australian women’s and men’s under-23 football teams have welcomed funding from the Australian Institute of Sport (AIS) as both squads prepare for upcoming challenges.

The Matildas have been looking confidently for a strong showing after winning a joint bid with New Zealand to host the 2023 Women’s World Cup at the beginning of this month.

On the other hand, Australia’s U-23 men’s national football team — called the Olyroos — has been preparing for the now-postponed 2020 Tokyo Olympic Games.

The AIS has now stepped in to provide high performance funding to both teams to prepare and compete in these two important competitions.

“The preparations of the @TheMatildas and Australia’s U-23 men’s national football team for @Tokyo2020 have received a boost, with confirmation that @theAIS will be providing high performance funding to both teams to prepare for and compete in Japan,” the official Football Federation Australia (FFA) Twitter handle announced.

The men’s Olyroos squad is scheduled to receive A$400,000 (Dh1.03 million) to support their preparation and participation at the Olympics, with the funding coming as part of the Federal Government’s A$50.6m investment in high performance sport over the next two years.

FFA Chief Executive Officer, James Johnson acknowledged the contribution from the AIS, explaining that government funding is important for FFA and football in Australia due to the highly-competitive global nature of the sport. “We appreciate and acknowledge the investment of the AIS and the Federal Government into the Matildas and the Olyroos ahead of Tokyo 2020,” Johnson said.

“We believe that the participation of the Matildas and Olyroos at next year’s Games — the first time that they have competed together since Athens 2004 — will add significant interest and excitement to the Games in Australia. Football has two million participants in Australia, so we expect our sport’s presence on this great international stage to play an important role in engaging Australians with Tokyo 2020, and inspiring more kids to take up sport and be active. And we look forward to working closely with the AIS and Government as we build up to the Fifa Women’s World Cup on home soil in 2023.”

Chair of the Australian Sports Commission, John Wylie said the AIS is pleased to be able to support both squads as they get set for the re-scheduled Games. “The AIS is incredibly proud to support the Matildas through this investment. They are now genuinely one of Australia’s iconic sporting teams, inspiring thousands of girls and women to play and get involved in football,” Wylie said.

“We have also worked closely with the Federal Government to secure this additional funding for the Olyroos, and look forward to seeing those players who will be experiencing the excitement and challenge of an Olympic Games for the first time.”

Australia’s U-23 men’s national football team head coach, Graham Arnold also welcomed the AIS contribution to the team’s process of helping more young Australians fulfil their Olympic dream.

“The Olympic Games offer an incredible experience to athletes, officials, and fans alike. Once you are an Olympian, you are an Olympian for life, and this allocation from the AIS and Federal Government will support more young Australian footballers to represent their nation at the Games,” he said.

“We look forward to going down to the AIS to have some good camps with the players soon.”