They are three days former Matilda Sarah Walsh is unlikely to forget any time soon as she joined a host of football royalty as part of the FIFA Legends Team in Mexico City.
Walsh, who represented her country 70 times in ‘A’ internationals and now holds down the role of Women’s Football Development Manager at Football Federation Australia, was invited to join the legends in conjunction with the 66th FIFA Congress which was held in Mexico.
Over the three days, Walsh and the FIFA Legends spent time with new FIFA President Gianni Infantino, sharing their insights on topics such as the men’s World Cup format and the inclusion of video assistant referees, as well as having a game of 9v9 and getting out to the local community.
Mingling with the likes of ‘the special one’ Jose Mourinho and Carles Puyol, Walsh said the highlight was playing with the likes of women’s football superstars Brazilian Sissi and American Mia Hamm as well as legendary male counterparts Luis Figo, Ronaldinho and Hidetoshi Nakata.
“It was a fantastic experience to be involved and alongside some amazing footballers,” said Walsh.
“We dusted the boots off and had a game and also engaged with the community including a visit to a children’s hospital which was personally quite moving.”
The FIFA Legends Team is designed to bring together former top players from men’s and women’s football to promote and support football and its wider mission around the world, and to give something back to the game.
“There was a common feeling within the group, coaches and players want to give back to the game in some shape or form, I am very pleased to have been a part of it and look forward to being involved further in the future,” said Walsh.
“The FIFA Legends concept plays an important role in the development of football across the globe, featuring coaches and players who reached the pinnacle of the game who can provide invaluable insights into how it can be improved,” said Walsh.
“By including the FIFA Legends in the consultation process for major developments to the game, it will give greater consideration to the impact decisions can have on the game and how it’s played and enjoyed by fans. “
The 66th FIFA Congress launched a new era for football’s world governing body and global football with the announcement of a “step change” in FIFA’s investment in football development, as well as the announcements of the FIFA Legends programme, progress on the implementation of the reforms, and new FIFA Secretary General Fatma Samoura.
“Attending the FIFA Congress was a really rewarding experience and personally I was pleased to see the President’s support for gender equality with the appointment of FIFA’s first female General Secretary General Fatma Samoura,” said Walsh.
Visit www.fifa.com for more on the FIFA Legends Programme and the recent FIFA Congress.