While the one-year delay to the Tokyo Olympics caused frustration for many it worked out well for Anna Green.
Had the games gone ahead last year, as per schedule, the Football Ferns defender would’ve been unavailable due to a serious knee injury.
But the coronavirus pandemic meant Tokyo 2020 will take place in 2021, which allowed Green to make a full recovery.
She returned from injury with Capital Football in New Zealand’s ISPS Handa Women’s Premiership last November and is currently playing for Lower Hutt AFC.
Green is part of a Kiwi quartet, alongside Abby Erceg, Ria Percvial and Ali Riley, that will be making their fourth appearance at the Olympics.
It’s just another milestone in a lengthy career at the top level for Green who first appeared for the Football Ferns as a teenager in 2006.
“I’m really excited. It’s my fourth Olympics so it’s nice to still be going, I guess, and still be part of the team,” she said.
“These Olympics will undoubtedly look very different to what the previous ones have but I think it’s pretty cool that it’s still going ahead.”
Having spent time overseas playing professionally with stops in Australia, Germany and England among others, Green is now based in Wellington in New Zealand where she works as an accountant.
The women’s game has grown exponentially during her time in the sport and she said the next wave of young players had the chance to make a career in football.
“I think it’s really important that people realise the opportunities that football can give you. I think it truly is a global game and the opportunities to have your education paid for or to be a full-time professional is something that football really does provide and that is a legitimate path that people can pursue.”
Green, who turns 31 in August, has designs on playing in the FIFA Women’s World Cup 2023 that will be held in Australia and New Zealand.
That tournament will take football to another level in the Asia-Pacific region and Green said it would be a great chance to get more women from the Pacific involved in the game.
“I think the World Cup being in New Zealand is a real opportunity to shine a light on all of those opportunities.”
The Football Ferns are in Group G at the Olympics with trans-Tasman rivals Australia, world champions the United States, and Sweden.
New Zealand will begin their campaign against Australia on July 21.
Tokyo 2020 will mark Football Ferns coach Tom Sermanni’s swan song with the team before New Zealand Football looks for a coach that can take the Ferns to the FIFA Women’s World Cup 2023 and beyond.