The future is looking even brighter for the country’s most promising female players after the New Zealand Football Foundation and the New Zealand Professional Footballers’ Association (NZPFA) joined forces to add to New Zealand Football’s significant investment in the FFDP, an innovative player development programme.
The FFDP was established by New Zealand Football in March of this year with the aim of bridging the gap between the domestic game and international level. It caters for 25 amateur female players from around the country and is specifically designed to overcome some of the unique challenges domestic-based players face compared to the world’s leading football nations.
While the programme will continue to be fully funded by New Zealand Football, the players will also receive a further boost thanks to the efforts of the Football Foundation and NZPFA, who have both pledged to contribute $25,000 each.
Football Foundation CEO Noel Barkley is pleased to be able to offer such support and is excited at the potential of the female game in New Zealand.
“We are glad to support the FFDP as we are encouraged by the dedication and successes of everyone involved with the programme,” says Barkley, who has first-hand experience of international football as a former All White. “Our aim is to support New Zealand Football in their bid to produce players able to step up to become international footballers.”
It is not the first time the Foundation has provided support to the women’s game. A total of $60,000 was put towards the Football Ferns’ Rio Olympic Games campaign in 2016 while financial assistance was also provided to Ferns defender and FFDP alumna CJ Bott as she travelled to Germany last month to trial for Frauen Bundesliga club USV Jena, whom she has now signed a professional contract with.
“Our strategic priorities are tightly aligned with that of New Zealand Football,” says Jodi Tong, recently appointed as the Foundation’s new Chair.
“Beyond that, we also assist with additional support going to the Football Ferns, youth trials, scholarships and hardship. Last year, we made a significant contribution to the Ferns’ Rio campaign and we have deepened our support this year as this is a fast-growing sector with a bright future.”
NZPFA Chairman Harry Ngata, also a former All White, is equally enthused.
“The NZPFA are delighted to be able to support the development of the next generation of Football Ferns,” he says.
“Our alignment with the Football Foundation to underpin this support is integral and has been driven closely by former Football Ferns and NZPFA Board members Sarah Gregorius and Rebecca Rolls. We’re confident this support mechanism will assist our players in achieving their personal development goals, both on and off the pitch.”
New Zealand Football is grateful to receive support for a programme it believes is the only one of its kind facilitated by a national sports organisation in this country.
“The FFDP was conceptualised out of the need to accelerate the development of our very best domestic players, giving them the best opportunity to be selected for national representation and ultimately be in a better position to pick up professional contracts,” says New Zealand Football High Performance Manager Dwayne Woolliams.
“This innovative programme is bearing fruit and we believe the support provided by the Football Foundation and NZPFA will add to the many benefits the players are reaping as a result of attending the programme.”
New Zealand has made remarkable strides at women’s international level in recent years with the Football Ferns now ranked 20th in the world. They are one of the smallest countries in the top 20 and are among only several where football is not the national sport.
The New Zealand Football Foundation is a registered charity, created to raise funds for the development of football in New Zealand. It was set up with $4 million of funds following the All Whites’ participation in the 2010 FIFA World Cup and has former All Whites captain Ryan Nelsen as its Patron while Sir Eion Edgar is Honorary Patron.
For more information on the New Zealand Football Foundation please visit footballfoundation.org.nz