New Zealand Football is pleased to announce the draw for the 2017 National Women’s League.
The competition, which is the main pathway for future Football Ferns, is a seven round competition which kicks off on Saturday 14 October and finishes with a grand final on Sunday 10 December.
The National Women’s League includes seven teams – Northern, Auckland, WaiBOP, Central, Capital, Canterbury United Pride and Southern United.
The NWL will begin this year with defending champions Canterbury United Pride hosting WaiBOP United at English Park in Christchurch at 12pm.
It is the final year that the National Women’s League will be contested over a single round (home or away), with the National Competitions Review conducted by New Zealand Football recommending a change to two rounds (home and away) from the 2018 season.
Like the ISPS Handa Premiership, the National Women’s League is the top women’s competition in the country and serves as an important step in the pathway to international football with a number of Football Ferns taking part in the three-month competition again this year.
Daniel Farrow, the Competitions and Events Director at New Zealand Football, said the National Women’s League is a great platform for aspiring New Zealand players. With its extension in 2018 will continue to develop as high-quality and marketable competition.
“The National Women’s League is our flagship women’s competition and, as recent seasons will show, is becoming an increasingly competitive environment for our aspiring female players,” said Farrow. “The competition is proving to be a fantastic platform for our talented female players to pursue higher honours in our FFDP, U-17, U-20 and Football Ferns teams.
“We expect the 2017 competition to be an exciting edition, as we explore the introduction of some Saturday matches and teams compete for the national title over a single round for the last time.”
The National Women’s League plays a vital role in developing the next generation of Football Ferns who are currently ranked 20th in the world and getting ready to take on the World No 1 USA.
Most of the young women who represented New Zealand at the FIFA U-17 World Cup in Jordan and the FIFA U-20 World Cup in Papua New Guinea last year were products of the National Women’s League.
“The National Women’s League has been a great development ground for our talented female players and referees since its inception and with the introduction of club licensing from 2018 the competition will continue to build structures that support our aspiring players, referees and coaches,” said Farrow.
The competition in 2016 was as close as it ever has been. There was plenty of drama in the final round as Northern Football were upset by WaiBOP at home to miss out on the playoffs, while Canterbury United Pride secured a home final after a 1-1 draw with Central Football. The Pride went on to secure their third National Women’s League title in four years after they defeated Capital Football 2-0 in the final at English Park.
Auckland Football Federation remain the most successful team in the competition’s history with six titles since the tournament began back in 2002, while Mainland (now Canterbury United Pride) and Northern are the most successful teams in recent time with three trophies apiece.
National Women’s League
When: 14 October – 10 December
Teams: Northern, Auckland, WaiBOP, Central, Capital, Canterbury United Pride and Southern United
Format: Seven round competition finishing with a grand final on 10 December
Social Media: Live updates on Twitter @NZ_Football #NWL