Guiding our game: March 2015

New Zealand Football CEO Andy Martin. Photo by www.photosport.co.nz

After a year in his role as New Zealand Football CEO, Andy Martin discusses the key achievements in last 12 months and the important next steps in an open letter to the stakeholders of the beautiful game.

The 12 months since I began in the CEO role has flown by. I’ve received considerable support and advice, watched a huge amount of football and feel really welcomed in the New Zealand community for which I thank you all.

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It was another very strong year for our community football programme as we enjoyed continued growth in participation numbers at grassroots level, another year of experience and progression under the Whole of Football Plan, and yet another period of rapid growth for futsal under New Zealand Football guidance.

At the top end of the domestic game the ASB Premiership saw the introduction of the Wellington Phoenix and with only one round left in the minor premiership, the competition is extremely tight with the last two semi-final places set to be decided only in the final round of the league. New regulations regarding safeguarding berths for New Zealand players were brought in as we moved to secure the domestic pathway for our emerging talent towards the international arena.

The development of the game at the highest domestic levels around the country was also reflected in the ASB Women’s and Youth League competitions with Mainland Football and the Nelson Marlborough Falcons shining through over the course of their competitions while Mainland Futsal’s triumph in the National Futsal League was another first for the game.

The grassroots of the game continue to grow under the Whole of Football Plan. Photo by www.photosport.co.nz

The grassroots of the game continue to grow under the Whole of Football Plan. Photo by www.photosport.co.nz

In the elite game we appointed a new coach for the All Whites and Anthony Hudson has hit the ground running in the execution of his detailed approach to securing a berth for New Zealand at the 2018 FIFA World Cup in Russia.

The Football Ferns continued to ramp up their preparations for the FIFA Women’s World Cup later this year in Canada and the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio as Tony Readings and his team set about their task of achieving history for our country at the biggest events on the calendar.

Our international women’s age-group sides were on the world stage with the U-17 and U-20 teams in action at their World Cup events, with the U-20 side raising the bar by earning a place in the knockout stages for the first time in our history while the Men’s U-17s secured their berth in their age-group World Cup event later this year.

To ensure that type of success continues on the world stage, we launched our blueprint for the elite game in December with the introduction of our Beyond Football plan. We aim to reposition football in the hearts and minds of Kiwis with a focus on winning at World Cups to demonstrate the huge untapped potential that exists in our game. Our approach harnesses the truly global scale of our sport as we build a credible, fundable plan to talk to investors about – football remains undercapitalised and if we are to grow and fulfil our potential this needs fixing.

As we continue to refine and build the platforms from which we can raise the profile of our game, the international success of Auckland City FC at the FIFA Club World Cup in December gave us wonderful example of how football can captivate the nation while the strong showing of the Wellington Phoenix in this year’s A-League competition provides further fuel for our growing fire.

2015 is a big year in the development of the Football Ferns. Photo by www.photosport.co.nz

2015 is a big year in the development of the Football Ferns. Photo by www.photosport.co.nz

Off the field the forward progress continued as we installed a new leadership team at New Zealand Football, guided by a restructured and refreshed Executive Committee working from a set of re-designed statutes.

That stable base allows us to look ahead with confidence and the next 12 months will be a crucial period in our drive forwards and it is imperative we maintain the momentum the game has created in recent times.

Our focus will be firmly on executing on the Beyond Football plan – to reposition football – to win at World Cups often, to inspire the nation and to see the game, our global game, become a leading sporting diplomacy tool for the country.

 

Flowing into that plan is a drive to ensure we develop the best coaches, great competitions and clear pathways supported by top class facilities and new funding, essential elements in our effort to transition the huge numbers of participants in our junior game to the youth and adult ranks.

March will see the launch of a new national coaching register with a two-year amnesty to establish who our best coaches are, where they are and how we can develop them to inspire our coming generations at all levels.

Mid-year, the creation and consultation around a refreshed blueprint for our national competitions structure is a vital piece of work as we aim to hit on the winning formula for our domestic game which will provide stable, sustainable products which appeal to everyone with an interest in this critical step of our pathway; from players and supporters through to sponsors and broadcasters.

The continued evolvement of our community model under the Whole of Football Plan must ensure delivery as close to the grassroots as possible to keep us at forefront of community sport development with fully aligned development pathways flowing towards the top domestic competitions.

For our headline acts; the All Whites and Football Ferns, 2015 is a year of differing ambitions.

All Whites coach Anthony Hudson. Photo by Photosport.

All Whites coach Anthony Hudson. Photo by Photosport.

There is a clearly articulated plan for the All Whites to get to Russia in 2018 and the next 12 months will see Anthony Hudson continue to determine his squad, build contact time and set the processes, culture and expectations ahead of a critical 2016 year of qualification. As part of this approach we will see a fully aligned Olympic squad as well as our U-20 team aiming to do the country proud in our home World Cup event.

For Tony Readings and the Football Ferns, the FIFA Women’s World Cup in Canada in June has long been a target and after a full programme of preparation the team will being going all out to win the showcase tournament – an achievement which would provide a priceless boost to our code which would be felt at every level of the game.

Once again I thank everyone for their commitment to our sport in whatever capacity you’ve undertaken to drive us forwards and I ask you keep encouraging non-football people to join our movement. We have great momentum and alignment and while we won’t always get things right, we have great communication channels for everyone passionate for the change to have their say. Long may this continue and I look forward to seeing you during 2015.

Finally, I can assure you that we will have the best prepared New Zealand U-20 team ever as they tackle the challenge of FIFA U-20 World Cup in May. Our coaches Darren and Neil will be fully supported by Anthony and Alex Armstrong and the preparations are tracking well on and off the field. What happens once the whistle blows is always difficult to predict but, with each and every one of you helping to fill the stadium every time we play, we will have the passionate support we need as we push for history on home soil.

 

Andy Martin
Chief Executive Officer
New Zealand Football

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