New Zealand age-group international Katie Rood has joined the cohort of Kiwis thriving overseas, signing her first professional contract with Italian club Juventus.
The 24-year-old was overjoyed to get the call-up after taking the plunge and travelling to Italy to chase her dream, but shared that the journey to Juventus has not been easy.
“People like to throw the word ‘sacrifice’ around at times like this,” she said.
“I guess if you look at all the things I’ve missed out on over the years then sacrifice would be the right word. But with every sacrifice came an investment. An investment in the pursuit of the life that I hoped to one day lead. Today is the day I finally got a return on those investments.”
Although she’s yet to make her Football Ferns debut, Rood represented New Zealand in the FIFA U-20 Women’s World Cup 2012 and has dominated in the Lotto NRFL Premier Women’s League with Auckland-based club Glenfield Rovers. Rood also holds the goal-scoring record in the New Zealand Football Women’s Knockout Cup, scoring 37 goals in one campaign.
Glenfield coach Andy Clay was disappointed to lose such a talented force up front but proud to see Rood get her well-deserved break and lead the way for other domestic-based players.
“She’s been good here for a long time, and there’s always been the question mark around the quality of the league. Now the Northern Premier League, when everyone’s there in the top five or six teams, it’s fairly good quality, but after that it drops off pretty quick,” he said.
“She’s proved that you can make the jump [overseas], without any Ferns exposure. If you work hard enough here, it can be done.”
Like Football Fern CJ Bott, who recently signed with German Frauen Bundesliga club USV Jena, Rood’s pathway into professional football opened up earlier this year when she was selected for the inaugural intake for the FFDP, an innovative player development programme implemented by New Zealand Football to realise the potential of the country’s brightest domestic-based female prospects.
Established in March this year, a key aim of the FFDP is to help its players pick up professional contracts overseas and programme manager Gareth Turnbull was overjoyed to see Rood join Bott as one of the early success stories.
“Katie has been a prolific goalscorer in our domestic game, both at club level and at national league level, and has always been in the thinking of the Football Ferns staff, but when you’re up against people who are playing in her position overseas – the likes of Amber Hearn, Hannah Wilkinson, Sarah Gregorius – it’s very difficult to bridge the gap between our local game and there,” he said.
“Hence the need for a programme to try to bridge that gap, where we’re working with these girls in a professional-like setting, to try to accelerate their development and then work with clubs overseas to get them into those environments.
“Katie has been one of the success stories for us with the FFDP this year, and we wish her all the best.”
Juventus will field their first ever women’s team in an historic match against local rivals Torino Calcio Femminile in the Coppa Italia Cup on 27 August ahead of their inaugural Women’s Serie A season.