Leichhardt Oval proposed as women’s sports hub

Tuesday 22 August 2023

On the back of the women’s World Cup, Inner West Council is proposing Leichhardt Oval as a permanent hub for women’s sport, and to help nurture the next generation of Matildas.

Spain had their final training hit-outs at the beloved inner west oval before going on to claim football’s biggest prize.

The council has released the new Leichhardt Oval masterplan (Your Say Inner West), which would see the ground used by a variety of amateur, professional and international women’s sporting teams for decades to come.

“The eighth wonder of the world hosted training sessions for the likes of Ireland, Columbia and Spain during the World Cup and the feedback has been amazing about the quality of the ground and the location,” said Mayor Byrne.

“This is the time to honour our Matildas and build on the incredible momentum they have created with their remarkable run at the World Cup.”

Steeped in rugby league history, Leichhardt Oval has proven itself to be a world class soccer venue over the past three weeks, hosting eight countries for their final training sessions a day out from games.

Council has developed a draft master plan to upgrade and renovate facilities at Leichhardt Oval and is asking state and federal governments to consider tiered funding scenarios for the oval.

The plan seeks to preserve and protect the heritage of the ground, while providing the modern seating and facilities the ground desperately needs.

The installation of modern female-friendly change rooms is the highest priority in the master plan.

The spiritual home of the Balmain Tigers, Leichhardt Oval sits nestled in quiet suburban streets and within metres of the Leichhardt Park Aquatic Centre, which is set to undergo a multi-million dollar renovation, providing state-of-the-art recovery and training facilities for squads training at the oval.

Football Australia is looking to build on the momentum and wants to host the 2026 women’s Asian Cup, the 2029 Men’s Club World Cup and the 2034 men’s FIFA World Cup.

In the lead-up to the World Cup, the oval hosted a celebration of women’s soccer with hundreds of local junior teams playing a regular round of competition at the iconic ground.

“Australia is poised to create a stunning legacy from the World Cup and build the framework and pathways for young girls to achieve their dreams and play for the Matildas.

“I think Leichhardt Oval can be an important piece of the puzzle and provide a world class training and playing venue,” said Byrne.

And while the World Cup has left Australia’s shores, soccer and other sports will roll on at the inner west oval in the coming weeks.

This Saturday, the oval will host rugby union’s Shute Shield final, while the Balmain junior league grand final will be on Sunday.

Iconic Australian soccer club, APIA Leichhardt, will be at the oval next week for the Australia Cup when they host Sydney FC under lights in a round of 16 clash.

The following weekend will see the NSWRL finals and Football NSW women’s Waratah Sapphire Cup.

Leichhardt Oval hosts hundreds of sports events each year, including men’s and women’s soccer, rugby league and rugby union.

In addition to hosting international teams, Sydney FC, NRLW Roosters and NSW Waratah women’s teams have trained and played regularly at the ground.

Inner West Mayor Darcy Byrne will host a media opportunity at Leichhardt Oval tomorrow at 2:30pm. The Mayor will be joined by Wests Tigers NRLW team co-captains Kezie Apps and Botille Vette-Welsh, and Sydney FC women’s A-League squad players Abbey Lemon and Aideen Keane.


For media enquiries and please contact Brett Clancy on 02 9335 2193  –

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Page last updated: 23 Aug 2023