Also see: Official media release from Prime Minister’s Office
March 31, 2010
AUCKLAND/WELLINGTON – All Whites coach Ricki Herbert and New Zealand Football Chairman Frank van Hattum are thrilled Prime Minster John Key has agreed to become Patron of the All Whites for the 2010 FIFA World Cup campaign, describing it has a sign of growing national support.
An offer was extended to Mr Key by the Chairman of New Zealand Football, Frank van Hattum and CEO Michael Glading.
The Prime Minister’s acceptance was confirmed today with a handshake and the gift of a scarf and personalised All Whites shirt from van Hattum, Glading and All Whites coach Ricki Herbert at Mr Key’s office this morning.
“Like all New Zealanders, I am enormously proud of what the All Whites have achieved in qualifying for the World Cup,” Key said.
“It is an honour to be asked to be Patron and I have accepted with pleasure.
“Ricki Herbert and the team have inspired and motivated a whole new generation of footballers and this will pay big dividends for the future of the game in New Zealand.”
Van Hattum said the agreement added to what was already an special time for football in New Zealand.
“New Zealand Football is thrilled to have this support from the Prime Minister,” van Hattum said.
“This is an exciting time for the players, the public and the game in this country. The groundswell of support from everyday New Zealanders has been amazing and for it now to extend publicly to the highest level of government is huge.
“The Prime Minister loves his sport and his support is a tremendous boost to our campaign and to growing the sport in New Zealand.”
Hebert said the Prime Minister’s patronage would make a real impact on the team.
“I think when there’s an iconic moment in any sport and the leader of your nation gets in behind you it just raises the level of support even higher,” Herbert said.
“The players and staff can feel really that support and while November 14 captured the public’s imagination and galvanised support from the sporting public but I think it’s moving beyond that now and seeing a New Zealand at the biggest sporting event is something the nation can really get behind.”