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New leagues aim to attract young women

The number of women playing the beautiful game is growing rapidly and about 19,000 females are registered in the sport across the country. The Sport and Recreation New Zealand (SPARC) Active New Zealand Survey, carried out in 2007/08, found that over a 12-month period more than 47,800 women aged 16 and over had participated in football at least once.
The numbers are expected to be given a further boost by the popularity of the FIFA World Cup in South Africa and NZ Football is aiming to capitalise on this by launching its Junior Girls Football Framework.
“We’re giving more girls more chances to play more football,” women’s football development manager Bev Priestman says.
“The new framework offers girls-only football for six to 12-year-olds during the summer months. We’re hoping the shift in season will attract a whole new group of girls to the game.”
It is hoped that by offering football at times away from other dominating winter sports such as netball, as well as introducing an exciting new format, more young women while be lured to the code.
The approach follows recent surveys of clubs, players and non-registered players, and aims to offer games that will better meet the motivational needs of young women.
“Girls-only football was being offered in a few parts of the country in varied formats,” Priestman says.
“This change will make it much more accessible and in a consistent format. The new framework will maximize the potential and really increase the numbers of girls playing football.”
Priestman thinks hosting the new leagues in summer could be the key to success.
“We will have better quality grounds with less cancellations and it will give girls the opportunity to play all year round,” she says.
“It also means our best coaches from winter can support the future of the girls’ game in the summer.”
Leagues will be held at one venue and those taking part will play smaller-sided games up to a higher age than normal, which will make it easier for clubs to get enough numbers to form a team.
“We’re aiming to breed a girls’ football culture and to get more mums to take up coaching too.”
Priestman says the female side of the sport has grown hugely since New Zealand hosted the 2008 FIFA U-17 Women’s World Cup.
For example, in Wellington last year 32 new teams joined a newly established women’s league running on a Sunday. This solved the problem of girls playing netball on Saturdays and being unavailable for football games.
The framework model will be piloted across some regions in October and a three-year progressive plan is in place to implement it nationally.
Over the coming months those regions on board will use the already established Females in Football programme to attract new girls to the framework through primary schools and clubs.
Story courtesy of NZF Media.
For the latest news on NZ Football visit www.nzfootball.co.nz

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