Following on from the Football Ferns’ opening two wins at the Cyprus Cup, New Zealand has announced a bold new vision for elite women’s 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,” New Zealand Football chairman Frank van Hattum says.
“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,” he says.
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 has 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,” van Hattum says.
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 is well-placed to comment on the significance of the new philosophy.
“This is a sign of where the game is at,” she says.
“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 says.
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 says.
courtesy of: New Zealand Football (www.nzfootball.co.nz)
Providing coverage of women’s football from all around the world!