Readings’ charges are the opening act of London 2012, playing hosts Great Britain in Cardiff two days before the opening ceremony, but with a combined experience of 862 caps the team is unlikely to be overawed.
It’s the most experienced Ferns squad named for a major tournament and includes ten players with 50 caps or more to their credit.
Those players – Rebecca Smith, Jenny Bindon, Abby Erceg, Ria Percival, Hayley Moorwood, Katie Hoyle, Ali Riley, Amber Hearn, Kirsty Yallop and Anna Green – were all part of the 2008 Beijing squad, as was defender Kristy Hill.
The balance of the squad comes from last year’s FIFA Women’s World Cup group, although there is still room for former White Ferns cricketer Rebecca Rolls, who claims the second goalkeeper spot, and 19-year-old former Australian age-group representative Rebekah Stott, who has impressed since switching allegiance back to her country of birth earlier this year.
Striker Rosie White, the other teenager in the squad, has fought her way back from a stress fracture to make the cut and is one of eight squad members aged 24 or under.
New Zealand Olympic Committee secretary general Kereyn Smith is proud to have unveiled the Football Ferns today.
“Our Olympic Games will kick off with the women’s football team taking on host nation Great Britain,” she says. “We couldn’t have hoped for a better start to the Games and we know they’ll make us proud.”
Readings is pleased to be able to name such an experienced line-up and believes it’s a quality that will be needed in abundance at the Olympics.
“We’ve been investing in a core of players since 2006 and now we’re much closer to the sort of experience you need to do well at a pinnacle event,” he says.
“In terms of age, most players are yet to reach their peak but London could be the event when we really start to cash in on all that investment in international experience.”
Women’s football entered the Olympic Games at Atlanta 1996, where eight teams competed. The women’s tournament has since expanded to include 12 teams. New Zealand made its women’s football debut at Beijing 2008 and earned one draw.
The Football Ferns have been pooled with Great Britain, Brazil and Cameroon in Group E for London 2012.
Football Ferns squad for Olympic Games
1-Jenny BINDON Goalkeeper (Hibiscus Coast – 69/0)
18-Rebecca ROLLS Goalkeeper (Fencibles United – 14/0)
2-Ria PERCIVAL (USV Jena, GER – 70/2)
3-Anna GREEN (Lokomotive Leipzig, GER – 50/6)
5-Abby ERCEG (Fencibles United – 72/4)
6-Rebecca SMITH (Captain, VfL Wolfsburg, GER – 68/4)
7-Ali RILEY (Malmö, SWE – 61/1)
14-Kristy HILL (Eastern Suburbs – 19/0)
15-Rebekah STOTT (Melbourne Victory, AUS – 3/0)
4-Katie HOYLE (Bad Neuenahr, GER – 62/1)
8-Hayley MOORWOOD (Chelsea, ENG – 80/10)
11-Kirsty YALLOP (Vittsjö, SWE – 59/11)
12-Betsy HASSETT (UC Berkeley, USA – 38/4)
16-Annalie LONGO (Three Kings United – 42/0)
9-Amber HEARN (USV Jena, GER – 59/30)
10-Sarah GREGORIUS (Bad Neuenahr, GER – 28/15)
13-Rosie WHITE (UCLA, USA – 35/9)
17-Hannah WILKINSON (Glenfield Rovers – 33/12)
19-Katie BOWEN (Glenfield Rovers – 8/0)
20-Sarah McLAUGHLIN (Claudelands Rovers – 11/0)
21-Holly PATTERSON (Claudelands Rovers – 4/0)
22-Erin NAYLER (Eastern Suburbs – 0/0)