FFDP given significant boost

Tony Readings says the FFDP will provide comprehensive support to the domestic-based Football Ferns. Photo: Shane Wenzlick / www.photosport.nz

New Zealand Football is excited to announce changes to its Women’s High Performance programme as it looks to achieve the strategic goal of elite teams winning at global pinnacle events.

In December, New Zealand Football received $1.5m funding over three years from High Performance Sport New Zealand after presenting a comprehensive four year plan. One of the major strategies of this plan was the creation of a centralised development programme to provide an improved standard of player development for domestic-based amateur and future Ferns.

In order to bridge the gap to the world’s best teams, New Zealand Football has enhanced the existing Football Ferns Development Programme (FFDP) which will now cater for up to 25 domestic-based amateur players from around New Zealand by invitation.  The programme is specifically designed to overcome some of the unique challenges the NZ amateur players face compared to the world’s leading nations and will be fully funded by NZ Football.

“The Football Ferns Development Programme will offer comprehensive support to the best identified domestic-based players across all areas of development,” said Football Ferns coach Tony Readings.

“The aim is to create a programme that more closely replicates the level of competition and support that professional players receive in the top leagues. We don’t have professional clubs here as in most of the leading football nations but this will enable more players to have an opportunity to progress to professional contracts overseas and represent the Ferns.”

The plan looks to build on the success of the World No 19 Ferns programme over the past 10 years which has already delivered many professional players.  One of the key strategies of the programme is to fast track the creation of even more professional players and senior internationals that can help the Football Ferns achieve improved success at pinnacle events.

The training programme will be run out of Auckland where the selected players will train four times per week with the international coaches and staff and participate in a boy’s competition.

After consultation with the Northern and Auckland Football Federations, the FFDP squad have been granted a place in the Conference Youth League (AFF/NFF) in the 17th Conference division for the 2017 season.

The players will receive high performance level support in areas of technical and tactical training, sport science, nutrition, medical, performance analysis and support with future career opportunities.

Readings said the FFDP will accelerate the development of the domestic-based amateur players and will ultimately aid in improving the performance of the Football Ferns.

“The top nations in the world have substantially more resources and opportunities for their larger pool of elite domestic based players. This underlines the need for us to bridge the gap domestically in order to continue to compete successfully on the world stage,” said Readings.

“Working with the players week in, week out and the ability to play in a more challenging competition will advance the development of our best-identified domestic players.”

The FFDP will be managed by Gareth Turnbull as part of a newly shaped role.

Turnbull, who coached the NZ U-17 women to the FIFA World Cup in Jordan in 2016, will lead the delivery of the training environment and other support services. He will manage the identification, support needs and exit routes of the FFDP players.

Turnbull, who led the Canterbury United Pride to back to back NWL titles, has extensive knowledge of the domestic player pool and developing high performance athletes in his previous role of Athlete Development Manager. He will also coach the NZ U-20 team as part of this new role and will take the NZ U-19 team to the OFC qualifiers for the U-19 Championship in July.

Meanwhile, former NZ U-20 coach Leon Birnie will now coach the NZ U-17 team. Birnie, who took the NZ U-20s to the FIFA World Cup in Papua New Guinea last year, will take the NZ U-16 team to the OFC qualifiers for the U-16 Championship in August.

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