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ASC grant helps bring international football to Shepparton

07 October 2022

Some of the brightest young football talent from across Asia is competing in Shepparton, Victoria this week ahead of next year’s AFC Under-17 Asian Cup.

An Australian player leaps high to header the ball away from a goalie while Northern Mariana Islands players gather around.
The Australian Joeys under-17 football team in action against Northern Mariana Islands in Shepparton, Victoria. Photo: Football Australia

Shepparton is hosting the AFC U-17 Asian Cup 2023™ Qualifiers this week, where Australia is taking on teams from Northern Mariana Islands, Cambodia and China.

The Joeys opened their Group G campaign on Wednesday night with a comfortable 23-0 win over Northern Mariana Islands. They face Cambodia on Friday, 7 October (7.30pm AEDT), and China on Sunday, 9 October (3pm AEDT).

The event has received support from the Australian Sports Commission’s Regional Sport Events Fund which has already distributed almost $2 million to 101 rural and regional councils. The fund was established to help boost the local economies in regional Australia and engage communities to reconnect through sport as following the impacts of COVID-19.

Councils estimate the events have attracted about 100,000 spectators and participants so far, with several more still to come.

Greater Shepparton City Council Mayor Shane Sali said it was incredible to see Greater Shepparton as the only Australian city to host this international event.

“Greater Shepparton does sporting events better than anyone and the fact we were chosen to host the AFC U17 Asian Cup 2023™ Qualifiers is evidence that we are perfectly placed to host the highest international events,” Cr Sali said.

“Our community has a proud football history and we pride ourselves on investing in world class facilities and we are very grateful for the Federal Government’s support via the Regional Sport Events Fund, which has allowed us to secure this prestigious event and to further promote our redeveloped Shepparton Sports City.

“This is a great coup for Greater Shepparton, landing another international event in our region, strengthening our position as regional Australia’s sporting and events capital.”

Australian U-17 Men’s National Team Head Coach, Brad Maloney, named the 23 Joeys players representing Australia in the Qualifiers earlier this week.

The final squad was selected following an intense two-week training camp in Melbourne, which featured three matches against Victorian NPL and A-League Men Youth Team opposition.

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the AFC U-17 Asian Cup 2023™ Qualifiers is the first international activity for the Joeys’ program since 2019.

These AFC U-17 Asian Cup 2023™ Qualifiers mark the first time Australia has hosted a Qualification Group or Qualifiers of any AFC Youth tournament since 2009 and presents a special opportunity for the Joeys to play in-front of family and friends.

Top spot in Group G will guarantee a place at next year's AFC U-17 Asian Cup 2023™ in Kuwait, with only the five highest-ranked second-placed sides joining them at the tournament.

“I think the boys are quite excited at the prospect of playing at home and the families are upbeat about watching their children on home soil, so it’s definitely something to look forward to,” Maloney said.

“I just want them to enjoy the experience and use it as an opportunity to showcase their skills on the international stage. I really hope they can take that in their stride, which I’m sure they will, as we look to qualify for the AFC U-17 Asian Cup 2023™.”

Free tickets to the qualifiers are available through Eventbrite and matches are being streamed live on the MyFootball YouTube channel.

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