March 10, 2013
AUCKLAND – New Zealand Football has revealed an ambitious vision for women’s elite football over the next eight years.
"We're aiming for women's elite football to be played, officiated, coached and managed by females by 2021," said New Zealand Football chairman Frank van Hattum.
"By incorporating it into the New Zealand Football vision and objectives it gives firm direction, focus, support and confidence for long term planning and development.
"It's ambitious, but achievable as we strive to develop New Zealand into a credible and competitive top-10 women’s football nation," van Hattum said.
The national body has already implemented a series of projects aimed at increasing the number of females involved in the sport in recent years and have started to reap the rewards of these initiatives.
'Girl's and women's week' was launched in 2010 with a broader goal of introducing females of all ages to the sport. The numbers have grown to over 7,000 participants in girls-only festivals and events in 2012.
"We've identified strategies on the way to achieving this goal and key milestones to measure progress, including the implementation of women-only, women-specific courses for coaching and refereeing," said van Hattum.
New Zealand Football now has a team of Women’s Development Officers in all seven federations, and in the past six months the first all-female Senior Level 1 and Senior Level 2 coaching courses have been delivered. Similarly, New Zealand can now field a FIFA listed all-women’s referee trio at international level.
To achieve the objective, New Zealand Football will actively pursue former players, to stay involved in the game and introduce a talent acceleration programme for coaches to increase their experiences with international players and teams.
Wendi Henderson, who won 64 caps for the Football Ferns over a 21 year international career is one such former player and well placed to comment on the significance of the new philosophy.
"This is a sign of where the game is at. When I did my coaching badges back in the early 2000s, I was the only female there. The women's game has changed massively over the time I've been involved. It's taking that next step and that's fantastic," Henderson said.
The realisation of the vision will be gradual; beginning with the ASB Women’s League and eventually leading into the Young Football Ferns (U-17) and Junior Football Ferns (U-20) cycles and culminating with the Football Ferns in the 2021 FIFA Women’s World Cup campaign.
"It's an ambitious objective but one New Zealand Football is committed to achieving," van Hattum said.