March was jam-packed with female football activities across Aotearoa, as New Zealand Football celebrated their 2022 Girls and Women’s Month.
The initiative was designed to encourage females to get involved in the game, while raising awareness of the opportunities on offer – whether it be as players, coaches, referees or something else.
The month was built around International Women’s Day on March 8, along with the Girls and Women Play Dream Weekend between March 18-20, which saw all six of NZF’s football federations run a range of football, futsal and beach soccer events.
These included ‘have a go days’, school festivals and all-female coaching and refereeing courses.
Nineteen female football and futsal ambassadors, including current Football Ferns and Wellington Phoenix players, helped out throughout the month.
NZF Women’s Football Development Manager Annalie Longo said the campaign focused on the fun and inclusive element of football while strengthening capability and leadership through participation.
“For me the campaign was about visibility and exposing our communities to the opportunities football can provide girls and women such as pathways, friendships, connections, confidence and life skills,” Longo said.
“The past year has been a challenge with COVID-19 restrictions but we were still able to run successful events in March.
“It was also awesome to have the support of our Football Ferns and Phoenix players to help raise the profile of women’s football throughout the country.”
OFC Women’s Football Manager Emma Evans said Girls and Women’s Month aligns with both NZF and OFC’s strategic goals of enriching lives and breaking down barriers to participation in football.
“The initiative provides such a great opportunity for girls and women to give football a go in a safe, fun and friendly environment with their peers,” Evans said.
“The introduction of beach soccer this year was fantastic and highlights how NZF are exploring new and exciting ways of adapting the game to suit their communities.
“With the FIFA Women’s World Cup 2023™ coming to New Zealand, the slogan ‘Dream. Play. Live.’ has never been more relevant and I hope this month has inspired girls and women to do exactly that.”