Football Ferns defender Meikayla Moore and striker Aimee Phillips have secured their first professional contracts in Europe.
Moore (21) has signed with FC Koln in the Bundesliga to play alongside Ferns striker Amber Hearn, while Phillips (26) will play for Spartak Subotica in Serbia.
The two Canterbury United Pride players, who have been part of the Future Ferns Development Programme (FFDP) for the past 12 months, are excited to play professional football.
“I am really looking forward to the challenge of training and playing against some for the best players in Europe,” said Moore who has played 24 A internationals for the Ferns since making her debut in 2013.
“The Bundesliga is one of, if not the strongest league, for women’s football. It’s the next step in my football career, it’s another dream of mine ticked off. Going professional, alongside other team mates is exciting and I’m relishing the challenge.”
Phillips, who has played six A internationals since making her debut in 2015, is also looking forward to a new challenge.
“I am most looking forward to playing in the Champions League and being tested in a different environment, with new coaches to enable me to become a better player,” said Phillips.
“I am also looking forward to living in Serbia because it is a beautiful place and it’s in Europe which is an opening to endless opportunities and beginnings.”
Moore and Phillips join Katie Rood (Juventus), CJ Bott (USV Jena) and Jana Radosacljevic (BV Cloppenburg) as FFDP players to sign their first professional contracts.
Gareth Turnbull, the FFDP Manager and Assistant Coach of the Football Ferns, said it was great news for two players he expects will be included in the Ferns’ FIFA World Cup qualifying campaign this year.
“After working with both Meikayla and Aimee for the past five years, I’m really happy for them both to finally achieve their goal of signing professional contracts,” said Turnbull, the former Pride coach.
“Both girls have moved their whole lives to Auckland in order to pursue the goal of establishing themselves as Football Ferns and to better themselves in order to become professional footballers. The hard work and
sacrifices have paid off which is testament to their attitude, commitment and desire to improve themselves every day as footballers.”
Moore and Phillips said the FFDP has been a huge help in developing their ability. The creation of the programme has been a key part of the pathway for women’s football in New Zealand.
“I am hugely grateful that this pathway was available for me and want to thank all those involved,” said Moore. “I want to especially mention and thank too, Andreas Heraf, for all his hard work and effort around this placement.”
Phillips said the FFDP has provided her with a full-time environment which will help her transition into pro football at Spartak Subotica.
“[Playing professionally] is an honour because you get to live your dream and only some people in life are lucky enough to have that opportunity. So I feel very lucky and humbled to do what I’ve always wanted and dreamt about.”
The Ferns pair are hoping this experience will help them develop further as they continue to press for starting places in the countdown to the 2019 FIFA World Cup in France.
“I’m here to ultimately grow as a player both mentally and physically for both myself and my place in the Football Ferns,” said Moore. “This experience and a different knowledge of the game is paramount for my development going forward.”
Phillips added: “This will give me an opportunity to just focus on football… that’s awesome and a huge relief.”
Moore and Phillips hope to be named in Andreas Heraf’s Football Ferns squad to play two international friendlies against Scotland in Spain in March.