FOOTBALL Wagga development officer Liam Dedini is confident the local region will benefit from next year's Women's World Cup in Australia and New Zealand as numbers continue to surge for their gala days this week.
The initiative, which started as a one-off Matildas event in 2016. to encourage girls to play, has now expanded into a four-day event accommodating almost 2500 youngsters.
Boys and girls' players aged eight to 15 will converge on Duke of Kent Oval from Monday to Thursday.
Dedini said the aim of the days is to encourage participation and fun and hopefully entice some newcomers to register for a team for the upcoming season.
"We'll have about 550 to 600 kids each day, which is awesome," Dedini said.
"The first year we did the gala day in one day and had about 200 kids here, and now we're at the point where we've had to extend it over four days.
"It's all about participation, getting them back out and having some fun, and learning some new skills of the game."
Opportunities to play sport have been limited during the COVID era, which makes it more important to encourage participation.
"Especially the last two years with kids not being able to do too much, it's great to see just about every school in Wagga and surrounds got on board," Dedini said.
"The girls here today (Monday), with the World Cup coming up we can hopefully continue to see growth in the women's and girls' game in this area, which is a big aim for us.
"This year we've expanded into three age groups with 8-9, 10-12 and 13-15. Hopefully over these gala days we can see a few more registrations and keep giving the pathway for girls, rather than them having to jump in and play with the boys."
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