New Zealand Football will work with the Federations to put in place a national team of over 30 Football Development Managers and Football Development Officers. Their job will be to bring the appropriate training, support and services closer to local clubs, to ensure the WOFP is successfully implemented. Once this structure is in place we will have something we’ve never had before: a national network of development officers at the grassroots. Their training and focus will ensure the plan becomes a reality.
The WOFP will give us the ability to retain and develop the talent we attract. Plenty of kids enjoy playing football but we have previously struggled to keep them involved as they progress through the age groups. Now we have the structure and resources to guarantee them a great experience at every stage, so they fall in love with the game and become long term players and supporters.
Strong sports provide national competitions and development pathways to ensure young players are exposed to the best coaching and opportunities. The WOFP provides this vital framework for every player in the New Zealand game.
This plan is the result of three years spent researching best practice from football organisations around the globe. We studied programmes in the UK, Holland, Germany, Switzerland, Australia and Japan to find out what works. We also reviewed over 30 other football associations and national organisations, both domestically and internationally. Great ideas and programmes from around the world have been adapted and developed to fit the needs of the game here in New Zealand.
By increasing the quality of coaching and the whole experience at the grassroots, New Zealand Football will be able to keep more of the promising young players who currently drift away to other sports. They will experience a high quality development programme that gives them more opportunities to reach for the stars. More specifically, research into athletic performance has established that it takes eight to 12 years of well coached football practice and deliberate football play from a young age for players to become outstanding adult footballers. Player training that follows progressive development pathways is also linked to higher rates of lifelong participation. The WOFP provides young Kiwis with a development pathway based on these principles.
The framework provides pathways and structures for recreational players as well as emerging talent. We aim to get more people playing more often and falling in love with the game. By providing them with a great experience at every stage, we will attract and retain the loyalty of more families throughout the generations.
The WOFP draws resources from a range of strategic partners. These include community trust and commercial sponsors, as well as funding from Sparc and New Zealand Football income sources. The WOFP is a national priority which means it’s vital to co-ordinate the way its implemented and how the resources are provided for years to come. This more sustainable centralised funding will help free up the game’s administrators and club stalwarts to focus on providing a great football experience rather than chasing funding to make ends meet.
Stage 1 kicks off at the start of 2011. We aim to have the WOFP for ages 4-12 fully implemented by 2012 before rolling out Stage 2 (Youth) and Stage 3 (Senior) within the next few years.
Junior footballers will be the first to see the fruits of the plan as the framework for 4-12 year olds is rolled out in 2011.
The introduction of Fun Football Centres, Football Festivals and holiday programmes for children under 12 years of age will provide more opportunities for children to play football in schools and community centres. In each federation, clubs will see First Kicks programme for 4-5 year-olds, Fun Football for 6-8 year-olds and Mini Football for 9-12 year-olds.
Teams are kept small – for example three-a-side for First Kicks and four-a-side for Fun Football – to give players more time each with the ball, and more chance to develop their skills and have fun.