Rarely has coffee been replaced by champagne so quickly and so early in the day.
After a nervous few hours and seemingly endless refreshing of a live stream, Fifa President Gianni Infantino uttered the words football fans here and in Australia were desperately craving at around 3.45am New Zealand time.
There was a major heart palpation when Infantino prefaced the announcement by referencing the winning "host country" (singular), before eventually confirming a senior football World Cup was heading down under for the first time.
The 11th hour withdrawal of Japan and the trans-Tasman bid's vastly superior score to Colombia in Fifa's technical report had many claiming earlier this week the outcome was a fait accompli. But nerves began to fray yesterday with news the nine-strong European bloc was leaning towards the Colombian bid. Their votes, coupled with South America's four had Colombia just five short of the 18 votes needed to win. With seven votes in Africa and five in Central/North America, it seemed as though things could go either way.
NZ Football CEO Andrew Pragnell stayed up all night. Sweden-based Football Fern CJ Bott tried to calm her nerves by eating sushi in a local park. Fellow defender Meikayla Moore nibbled on salad in Germany waiting for news. Home-based players Annalie Longo, Erin Nayler and Hannah Wilkinson gathered in an Auckland hotel room wondering if the plethora of media commitments that had been arranged for them would come to fruition. As it happened, both Africa and CONCACAF threw their support behind the Australia / New Zealand bid and the margin of victory was eventually comfortable with 22 of the 35 eligible Fifa Council delegates ticking the trans-Tasman box.
The current crop of players will be desperate to be involved in three years' time. Starting with the rescheduled Olympics in 2021 and then folding into the build-up to 2023, expect a renewed vigour among our elite players to ensure they're there in 2023. What better motivation could there be than the prospect of standing on home soil, belting out the national anthem and wearing the fern into battle with family and friends cheering them on?
Former Football Ferns legend and now NZ assistant coach Wendi Henderson...— Jason Pine (@pineyzb) June 25, 2020
"It'll really demonstrate to the country just how far the women's game has come globally. It's often hard to articulate the heights it has reached and where it's continuing to grow."@newstalkzbsport pic.twitter.com/2mRzXC5LIC
The trick now for New Zealand Football is to capitalise on the tournament and make sure it leaves a positive legacy. There needs to be a plan in place to not only host a successful event, but to ensure football thrives here beyond 2023.
Women's football is already on the up. Thousands of young Kiwi girls are choosing it over the traditional powerhouse of netball and seeing a future pathway into professional sport. Players like Moore, Bott, Ali Riley, Abby Erceg and Rosie White are flying the flag in various professional competitions around the world. It goes without saying the World Cup will provide an enormous boost to football in this country, with wide-eyed youngsters watching in awe as the world's elite players and New Zealand's best strut their stuff on the grass of Auckland, Hamilton, Wellington, Christchurch and Dunedin.
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Football Ferns centurion Sarah Gregorius...— Jason Pine (@pineyzb) June 25, 2020
"Trust me, they'll be will be out with a renewed sense of vigour in all of their training environments. You'll see evidence of a lot of players working pretty damn hard."@newstalkzbsport @sarah_grego pic.twitter.com/W32Q5AP15x
Those youngsters need somewhere to play and then develop. Football needs to be encouraged as a genuine option in schools. Infrastructure needs to be ready for the influx of numbers. Coaching standards need to lift to guide the cream that rises to the top. A footballing philosophy needs to be formulated for both boys and girls to follow from the moment they decide to take the game seriously. And the raw materials which undoubtedly exist in young Kiwi footballers need to be nurtured and grown so we don't just appear regularly on the international stage in the years ahead, we compete and win there.
Today's announcement is the starting point for what could be a sea-change in the way the women's game is played and administered here. With such high interest, never has there been a better launching pad for football in New Zealand. The game will be flooded with enthusiastic, malleable, motivated young minds who are every bit as capable of achieving greatness as children from traditional footballing powerhouses in South America and Europe.
Already the likes of Sarpreet Singh, Ryan Thomas and Liberato Cacace are becoming heroes of our young boys. Why shouldn't the next wave of young female players have similar role models to emulate? They can, and will, but they'll need the framework within which their own lofty dreams can become reality.