The programme is being introduced in stages to allow federations and clubs to implement the necessary structures rather than biting off more than they can chew. The logical place to begin is at the most junior levels of the game, where eager kids (and their parents) get their first taste of the sport.
As you can see from the framework diagram, the plan provides three programmes for our youngest players: First Kicks (4-5 years), Fun Football (6-8 years) and Mini Football (9-12 years). The needs of a four year old are quite different from the needs of a 12-year old, so we provide the framework and resources to give both a rewarding experience.
To ensure a smooth implementation, we’ve set out some key strategies and goals. These include the following:
Our phased introduction ensures that the game as a whole can focus its resources on getting things right in one area at a time. Building from the bottom up, we will progressively introduce new programmes for Stage 2 (Youth) and Stage 3 (Senior) once the national Junior framework is up and running.
These programmes will be implemented over the next three to six years as resources become available.
Sport and Recreation New Zealand (Sparc) has recognised the value of our approach and approved the direction we’re heading in. Funding from Sparc, in addition to support from our new commercial sponsors and community partners, means that New Zealand Football can now introduce this comprehensive programme with a well-funded model.
This gives football a huge advantage at the grassroots. With base funding provided from the national level, local clubs and Federations will be able to kick start player development with a consistent approach. We’ll have the means to build on interest generated in the game, and deliver a great experience to players throughout the country.