Katie Rood has fulfilled a lifelong dream by signing her first professional contract with Juventus.
The former New Zealand U-20 forward, who has been a member of the FFDP Women’s Domestic Programme in Auckland this year, has joined the recently founded Serie A women’s side after a trial in Italy.
The Glenfield Rovers striker, who has been working with the Northern Football Federation in recent time, said it was hard to get her head around the fact she will be playing professional football.
“People like to throw the word ‘sacrifice’ around at times like this,” she wrote on social media after the announcement. “I guess if you look at all of the things I’ve missed out on over the years then sacrifice would be the right word. But with every sacrifice came an investment. An investment in the pursuit of the life that I hoped to one day lead.
“Today is the day that I finally got a return on those investments. It’s a chance to play in a new and exciting environment and hopefully be able to grow as a person and a player.”
— Juventus FC Women (@JuventusFCWomen) August 21, 2017
Gareth Turnbull, the New Zealand U-20 coach and the manager of the FFDP, said Rood’s signing was great news as the number of New Zealand women professional footballers continues to grow.
“Katie has been a consistent performer in our domestic leagues both with club and federation over the past few years so this is the next step in her footballing journey,” said Turnbull.
“This highlights that with persistence and a great daily training environment with support in key performance areas, our local Kiwi girls can make it to the professional game. We wish her all the best.”
Rood credited the FFDP, Turnbull and the support staff for creating a pathway to football on the world stage.
“The main help has been the filming, being able to get our games filmed and get a highlights package together, which then can be sent off to the agents.”
One of the key goals of the FFDP is to introduce aspiring female footballers in the world of professional football.
“The consistent play with the FFDP, getting to train every day almost with a really good group of players and getting some boys in there as well, to kind of just lift the tempo at trainings,” she said.
The former North Force forward described the journey as ‘one heck of a ride’ from when she started kicking a ball at the age of eight to her signing a professional contract with Juventus at the age of 24.
“It’s been a wild ride, I grew up playing heaps of sports but it got to a point where football just kind of took over, that’s where the passion was and once I started watching a bit more and really getting into it, I just loved the game and I just wanted to pursue it as much as possible.”
Turnbull said Rood has been one of several success stories to come out of the FFDP this year.
“Hot on the heels of CJ Bott’s signing, having Katie and Jana Radosavljevic sign professional terms this week is helping grow the depth of professionals around the world which will have a profound effect on the Football Ferns over the coming years.”
Radosavljevic is a Serbian-born but New Zealand-raised footballer who turns 21 in November and will join Bundesliga 2 club team BV Cloppenburg on a one year deal from the FFDP.
“Jana has been with the FFDP for the past four weeks on trial where she has impressed the coaching staff with her attacking intent and creativity. Both Katie and Jana will now find themselves having to compete every single day with other likeminded professionals which is going to be a really important of their development.”
Turnbull said Juventus has invested a lot of resources into the women’s program as they set out to become a world leading women’s team within the next three years.
“With these players leaving our environment for the professional game, it provides others have the chance to come into FFDP. We currently have four others on trial which have excelled domestically this season and shown the desire to become good Football Ferns in the near future.”
Rood hopes that her professional contract will help her break into the Football Ferns squad as they look to build towards the pinnacle events of the FIFA World Cup in 2019 and the Tokyo Olympics in 2020.
“There is an aspect to breaking into the Ferns squad, that hopefully will help, with me being in a better environment, with more opportunities to play against better players and I think there is also the opportunity to play in the Champions League, which is a dream of mine, so being seen by more people, more regularly, hopefully that will reflect back to the coaches back end.”
Meanwhile in England, Olivia Chance has re-signed with the Everton Football Club on a two year contract in the English Premier League.
The Football Ferns squad for the upcoming tour of the USA will be named on Saturday.
Football Ferns Tour of the USA
15 September, kick off at 8pm (local time)
Dick’s Sports Goods Park in Commerce City, Colorado
19 September, kick off 7:30 pm (local time)
Nippert Stadium on the campus of the University of Cincinnati