Australia's best footballers fly to the moon and back
Seventy five of Australia's best footballers have travelled a collective distance that is equivalent to a return trip to the Moon
Seventy five of Australia's best footballers have travelled a collective distance of 862,000 km across the globe to wear the green and gold this week - that's the equivalent of a return trip to the Moon.
That's the distance covered by four National Teams in pursuit of two FIFA World Cups, one World Championship and a pathway to the London 2012 Olympic Games on three continents across a multitude of times zones.
And that's just one week in the life of the 11 National Teams fielded and funded by Football Federation Australia.
Here's a snapshot of the football travel diary this week:
• The Westfield Matildas are in Germany preparing for the FIFA Women-s World Cup • The Qantas Joeys are in Mexico for the FIFA U-17 World Cup Mexico 2011 • The Pararoos are in the Netherlands for the Cerebral Palsy International Sports and Recreation Association (CPISRA) Football 7-A-Side World Championships • The Qantas Olyroos are in Gosford, NSW, preparing for their London 2012 Olympic Games Asian qualifiers against Yemen starting this Sunday • The Qantas Young Socceroos will join their globe-trotting compatriots next month when they head to Colombia for the FIFA U-20 World Cup.
All these National Teams were delivered safe and sound to their overseas destinations by Qantas.
"With all due respect to the diplomatic service, we think these Australian footballers are the finest ambassadors the nation could ever send overseas," said FFA CEO Ben Buckley.
"They represent a youthful, skilful and cosmopolitan face of Australia and the game they play transcends any language or cultural barrier they may confront. FFA is truly proud to make these opportunities available to our best footballers and in turn they do the nation proud in the way they represent Australia abroad."
The action begins in earnest for the Pararoos in the Netherlands tomorrow when they face Spain, followed by Brazil on 20 June and finally the Netherlands on 22 June. The CPISRA Football 7-a-Side World Championships serve as the qualifiers for the 2012 London Paralympic Games with the top seven teams progressing to the final tournament next year. The Pararoos are also supported by the Australian Paralympic Committee.
The Westfield Matildas swing into action with friendly matches against Mexico (June 20 - Gottingen) and England (June 23 - Wolfsburg) prior to their first FIFA Women's World Cup match against Brazil on June 29 (June 30, 2.15am AEST SBS ONE), before playing Equatorial Guinea on July 3 (10pm AEST SBS TWO) and Norway on July 6 (July 7, 2am AEST SBS ONE).
The Qantas Joeys begin their FIFA U-17 World Cup Mexico 2011 campaign against the Côte d'Ivoire on Monday 20 June (Tuesday 21 June AEST) after defeating Canada and Uruguay in friendly matches this week.
The Qantas Olyroos take their first formal steps on the road towards the London 2012 Olympic Games on Sunday 19 June at Bluetongue Stadium in Gosford and on Thursday 23 June at Ausgrid Stadium in Newcastle in a two-game series against Yemen. The winner progresses to the next stage of the Asian Olympic qualifying phase, while the loser is eliminated.