First announced in January 2019, the Westfield Junior Matildas will be the first Australian team to visit the Pacific since the Socceroos in 2005 when they depart on a three country tour on Monday 5 August.

In partnership with the Australian Government and the Australian Department of Foreign Affairs & Trade as part of the ‘Pacific Step-Up’ and the Australia Pacific Sports Linkages Program, the Westfield Junior Matildas will visit Tonga, Vanuatu and the Solomon Islands and play a match against a counterpart women’s national team in each country.

The Westfield Junior Matildas will be joined by an expanded travelling party led by International Relations Manager Kieran Lilley that will include Westfield W-League players Emma Checker and Hannah Brewer, match officials Lara Lee, Sarah Ho and Joanna Charaktis, FFA Girls Youth Development Manager Debbie Fisher and Football Queensland Women & Girls Development Officer Kerry Hammersley, as well as a media unit that includes the production company behind the KICK series, Gold Leaf Creative.

“Football Federation Australia (FFA) is proud to be partnering with the Australian Government on another significant foreign policy initiative, in the Pacific Step-Up,” FFA’s Chief Operating Officer and Head of International Relations, Mark Falvo, said.

“As part of our commitment to supporting the development of football internationally, we’ve worked with more than 35 countries – both in and out of our home confederation of Asia – oftentimes in partnership with the Department of Foreign Affairs & Trade (DFAT), as part of the Australian Government’s Sports Diplomacy 2030 Strategy.”

“The ability to bring an expanded travelling party is an evolution of that DFAT partnership, and will allow us to increase the number of football development initiatives we can deliver while on the tour. These initiatives are designed to support the ongoing work that our counterparts do to grow football in their countries, and we’re excited at the opportunity to work with them.”

Delivered in partnership with the Tonga Football Association, Vanuatu Football Federation and Solomon Islands Football Federation, the Westfield Junior Matildas and expanded travelling party will conduct a number of coaching and refereeing workshops, as well as skills clinics, while visiting the three countries on the tour.

Over the last two weeks, Westfield Junior Matildas Head Coach Rae Dower has split her time between Coffs Harbour and Canberra, with the Westfield National Youth Championships and NTC Challenge competitions providing her the opportunity to see a number of players from across the country in person prior to selecting a travelling squad of 23.

Speaking after viewing the potential players for the tour, Dower said: “From a technical perspective, it’s great that every team involved in this tour can use these friendlies as an opportunity to prepare for tournament fixtures that happen shortly afterwards. Tonga, Vanuatu and the Solomon Islands will contest the OFC U-19 Women’s Championship at the end of August, and our squad will be travelling to Thailand in September for our AFC Championships.”

“Competing and testing yourself against opposition from outside your home confederation is an important development opportunity for the players too, because they’ll be exposed to different players and playing styles which brings about different problem solving opportunities to a match situation.”

“For this squad, it’s an opportunity to develop personally as well – the team worked with the Australian Embassy in Vientiane and the Lao Football Federation earlier this year, and it’ll be a new experience travelling to multiple countries on the one tour, with the quick changes in environment and having to adjust to new surroundings.”

When asked what they were looking forward to ahead of the tour, Westfield Junior Matildas players Jessika Nash (defender) and Emma Ilijoski (defender), responded with the below:

Westfield Junior Matilda Jessika Nash said: “I am excited at the thought of going to the Pacific to represent this great sport of ours, to be an ambassador for the women’s game, and to bring people together through a common love of sport, especially football.”

Westfield Junior Matilda Emma Ilijoski said: “I am most looking forward to having the opportunity to form relationships with girls from different countries, with shared interests, that we can cherish forever.”

First Assistant Secretary from the Office of the Pacific DFAT, Ms Kathy Klugman said, “We are pleased to support the Junior Matildas’ tour of the Pacific. They are a source of inspiration for Australians, especially young women and girls. We hope through this experience the Junior Matildas and their Pacific opponents will continue to act as role models for their peers and communities across the Pacific.”

The travelling squad is named below:

Westfield Junior Matildas 23-Player Squad | 2019 Pacific Step-Up Tour | Tonga, Vanuatu, Solomon Islands

Name Club/Program, State

Emma ILIJOSKI, Gungahlin FC, ACT

Mia McGOVERN, Canberra United Academy, ACT

Jessika NASH, FNSW Institute, NSW

Darcey MALONE, FNSW Institute, NSW

Bryleeh HENRY, FNSW Institute, NSW

Charlize RULE, FNSW Institute, NSW

Jordan JASNOS, FNSW Institute, NSW

Chloe CARMICHAEL (GK)Marconi FC, NSW

Charlotte FARMER, Brisbane Roar FC / Queensland Academy of Sport, QLD

Georgia BEAUMONT, Brisbane Roar FC / Queensland Academy of Sport, QLD

Jamilla RANKIN, Brisbane Roar FC / Queensland Academy of Sport, QLD

Alana MURPHY, Football Victoria NTC, VIC

Grace TARANTO, Football Victoria NTC, VIC

Paige ZOIS, Football Victoria NTC, VIC

Alana JANCEVSKI, Football Victoria NTC, VIC

Claudia MIHOCIC, Football Victoria NTC, VIC

Tijan MCKENNA, Football West NTC, WA

Taneesha BAKER, Football West NTC, WA

Miranda TEMPLEMAN (GK)Football West NTC, WA

Hana LOWRY, Football West NTC, WA

Ruby JONES (GK), Newcastle Jets Academy, NSW

Kirsty FENTON, Newcastle Jets Academy, NSW

Josie MORLEY, Newcastle Jets Academy, NSW

Tonga U-19 Women’s National Team v Westfield Junior Matildas

Date: Thursday, 8 August 2019

Kick-Off: 1:00pm (local); 4.00pm (AEST)

Venue: Tonga Football Academy, Nuku’alofa, Tonga

Vanuatu U-19 Women’s National Team v Westfield Junior Matildas

Date: Monday, 12 August 2019

Kick-Off: Details to be finalised

Venue: Details to be finalised

Solomon Islands U-19 Women’s National Team v Westfield Junior Matildas

Date: Thursday, 15 August 2019

Kick-Off: 4:00pm (local); 5:00pm (AEST)

Venue: Lawson Tama Stadium, Honiara, Solomon Islands

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