The second two-day block of New Zealand’s Women in Football Leadership Programme wrapped up this week with a message to the participants to challenge the old rules of leadership and forge a new path.

The programme was designed for women involved in the administration of the game with an eye on becoming future leaders.

It was developed around New Zealand Football’s key strategy of enriching more lives through football and strengthening capability and leadership across women’s football.

Twenty women are taking part in the programme which looks at how to close the ‘confidence gap’ and challenge the biases that might be holding applicants back from pursuing their career further.

The first two-day conference took place in October and FIFA’s Chief Women’s Football Officer Sarai Bareman filmed a video message for the participants that they watched between contact courses.

A networking group has been established and there will be another mentor check-in and group connect before Christmas.

The project, facilitated by the Capability Group, is part of the OFC Women’s Football Capacity Building Programme to help develop the leadership capability of women in football.

OFC Women’s Football Development Officer Emma Evans said it was great to see so many enthusiastic candidates who came from a wide range of roles in the game.

“This programme brought together women from across New Zealand to help further develop their leadership skills, both personally and professionally,” Evans said.

“The passion, drive and vision that this first cohort has is extremely exciting and with the support of the federations and New Zealand Football behind them, the impact that this group of leaders will have on football in New Zealand in the years to come will be immense.

“Annie Kennedy from the Capability Group created an open and safe environment where these leaders were able to be vulnerable, authentic and open to change. Annie’s ability to connect and understand people enabled this programme to be such a success for every participant.”

New Zealand Football President Johanna Wood, who spoke at the conference in Auckland on Wednesday, said it was vital to have women contributing to the game.

“The challenge is how do we advance women in leadership. What are the opportunities for women in leadership and how can we support women in leadership,” she said.

“So one of the things I talked about was if someone taps you on the shoulder then you need to accept that they actually see something in you that is of value and you can contribute to whatever that role is. Sometimes as an individual we don’t see that role ourselves so that should give you the self-confidence to put yourself forward.”

Wood, who also sits on the FIFA Council, acknowledged the support of her family in allowing her to succeed in leadership positions in various corners of her career.