Football Ferns’ captain Abby Erceg has moved to the Japanese Nadeshiko League on loan from her United States NWSL club the Chicago Red Stars.
The 25-year-old Erceg makes the move to link up with fellow Football Ferns Sarah Gregorius and Anna Green at AS Elfen Saitama until the end of the current season in November before returning to Chicago for 2016.
Erceg says the move will help keep the 116-cap international defender in top shape ahead of the Football Ferns’ bid for the Rio Olympics next year.
“Elfen made an offer prior to the World Cup and it seemed like the logical next step. The season is short and will allow me to keep my game fitness heading into an Olympic year.”
Erceg believes the switch will help keep her at the top of the game with the technical style of the Japanese competition a key factor.
“I am always interested in finding new ways to develop my game. I think if you rest on your laurels or stand still for too long you will get overtaken with how fast the women’s game is changing and evolving.
“Playing in Japan offers me the opportunity to develop new skills, particularly technically, as Japan is known for their precision playing style. I look forward to bringing these new adaptations into my game for the Football Ferns.”
Football Ferns coach Tony Readings, who re-signed with New Zealand Football until the 2019 FIFA Women’s World Cup, said the move will continue to grow Erceg’s knowledge of the game.
“It is great for our players to experience different styles of football at the highest level,” Readings said.
“Abby has played in Australia, Germany, USA and Japan in recent times which will keep adding to her skill set. Abby is the type of player who is continuously looking to improve and this move will present her with some new challenges.”
In addition to her Japanese and United States experience, Erceg has previously played top level football for Espanyol in Spain, USV Jena in Germany and Adelaide United in Australia as well as for several clubs in Auckland (Three Kings Utd, Western Springs AFC, Fencibles Utd AFC).