Womenís football in New Zealand is on the rise, with continued growth year on year. In 2011, the number of registered female players now stands at 23,500, which is a 19% increase from 2009.
However, participation numbers still lag behind other womenís sports in New Zealand and it is clear that womenís football requires a new approach in order to realise the true potential of the sport.
New Zealandís progress on the international stage will continue to play its part in attracting new players, with notable milestones achieved at global competitions over the past three years. The Football Ferns have achieved historic wins over Argentina, Netherlands, Italy, China, Scotland, Colombia, Wales and Switzerland as well as draws against top tier nations Canada, France, Japan, England, Australia and South Korea. New Zealandís U-17 and U-20 teams have shown equal promise at age group FIFA World Cups.
The Football Ferns returned to the world stage in 2011 at the FIFA Womenís World Cup in Germany where they narrowly lost to England, eventual champions Japan, and earned their first World Cup by drawing with Mexico.
At the 2012 Olympics, the Football Ferns made the historic step to the quarter finals, after notching their first Olympic win against Cameroon before narrowly losing to eventual gold medalists USA in the quarter final.
To build on this promise, we need to grow the depth in the womenís game through increasing the avenues for young girls to play football. Our new approach will focus on reducing the barriers to involvement by offering girls-only junior football and offering football during the summer months to attract new girls to the game.
The tailor-made pathway aims to provide a high-quality experience that meets the motivational and developmental needs of female players. This will ultimately increase participation levels and allow each player to reach her true potential.