There’s no denying that we’re a sporting nation here in Australia. Our weekends are coloured by those sporting pursuits that breathe colour into the calendar; early morning races, triathlons humming with community spirit, football games punctuated by the second-hand smoke of a sausage sizzle across the field. And when it comes to those players we admire and whose jerseys we wear like a uniform, these are the teams we follow around the country simply to show our support and allegiance.
Thankfully, for those in Sydney, such support will be getting a facelift as the redeveloped Sydney Football Stadium opens its doors to crowds once again. Having been demolished back in 2019, the stadium underwent an $828 million renovation and will now host its first match on Friday, September 2 with the NRL clash between the Sydney Roosters and South Sydney, kicking off a football festival spanning five days across the month of September.
Following the NRL, the Wallabies will then meet with world champions South Africa, and the next day the Matildas will host the Tokyo 2020 Olympic gold-medal winners Canada on Tuesday, September 6 in an international friendly game.
Under the new renovations, capacity of the stadium has been reduced to just 42,500 seats, all of which are now under shelter thanks to a rebuild. The venue will become home to the Roosters, NSW Waratahs and Sydney FC, promising weekends of electrifying sportsmanship and physical prowess that will breathe life back into the community, following the trials of the pandemic that saw sporting competition postponed for some time.
Speaking about the excitement of new turf and a new-look stadium, Matildas’ veteran Kyah Simon told The Guardian that the stadium presented an exciting opportunity for fans to get involved, as it will also serve as a host venue for the FIFA Women’s World Cup in 2023. “It’s a beautiful world-class stadium in the heart of Sydney,” said Simon.
“It’s an exciting time for women’s football, knowing that we’re playing a powerhouse Canadian team later on this year is huge. In the lead-up to the World Cup, the more games we can play in front of a home crowd, and hopefully a sell-out, we can build the hype.”
Such sentiments were echoed by Rugby Australia CEO, Andy Marinos, who said: “We are extremely excited to be able to host the first ever international event at the new Allianz Stadium. To have the Wallabies taking on the world champion Springboks in front of over 40,000 supporters is going to be an amazing experience, and one I’m sure those in attendance will never forget.”
Before the sport kicks off, the stadium will also be open to fans for a free community open day on 28 August.