New Zealand aim to supercharge local game with legacy plan

  • New Zealand Football plan to further grow game on the back of 2023 FIFA Women’s World Cup

  • ‘Aotearoa United: Legacy Starts Now’ designed to ensure an enduring impact for local football

  • Announcement comes amid a historic period for New Zealand women’s football

The 2023 FIFA Women’s World Cup™ in Australia and New Zealand is certain to be an engaging spectacle full of high-quality football on the field and colourful engaged fans off the field. Perhaps a greater challenge will be to harness momentum from the biggest sporting event to be held in New Zealand and build an enduring legacy.

With that end in mind, New Zealand today unveiled an ambitious plan - Aotearoa United: Legacy Starts Now - to ensure a strong and lasting impact for local football and also across the Pacific.

Impetus has been steadily building Down Under since last year’s 2023 host announcement with Wellington Phoenix now just a week away from making their opening match in Australia’s A-League Women. The Phoenix – the nation’s first professional women’s team – will debut almost exactly 100 years since the first women’s match in New Zealand. Among the Phoenix squad are several graduates of New Zealand’s ground-breaking bronze medal win at the 2018 FIFA U-17 Women’s World Cup.

The Legacy plan focuses on developing pathways in the game (such as playing, coaching, refereeing, administrating), opportunities (such as professional football for female players), and partnerships to achieve greater outcomes for the game throughout Aotearoa New Zealand and the Oceania region.

Legacy Starts Now is built on four pillars | pou:

Power of Opportunities | Whakamana (Leading the way by breaking barriers) Pathways | Ara (Paving the way for future generations) Partnerships | Mana Ngātahi (Growing and strengthening the game through meaningful relationships) People and Places | Tiaki (A game for all and a place of connection)

“One of things I’m most excited about is that this plan was developed by football for football,” Paula Hansen, New Zealand Football Women’s World Cup, Legacy and Inclusion General Manager, told FIFA.com. “It is really focussed on developing our wahine – our girls and women – across the whole spectrum of the game.

“At the moment about one in five players are female, and we are not shy about saying we want that 50-50. One of the things this plan strongly talks to is that while there is a focus on girls and women, the impact is going to be felt across the whole country, all genders, all communities. It is really important that we are not just talking about more women leaders or referees in the women’s game for instance, but across the whole game.

“The other thing I’m looking forward to is providing support to Māori Football Aotearoa with their programmes and their incredible work offering opportunities for Maori.”

Hansen participated in the FIFA Women’s Leadership Development programme in late 2019 and says that experience was not only a pivotal moment in her own career, but in the way she will be able to help bring meaningful change to local football over the coming years. “You have moments in your life when something is life-changing, and you don’t often have many of those. But when I came back [from the programme], I had a real fire in the belly.

“If I was serious about a career in football and doing the best for football, then I owed it myself and others to think long and hard about what I wanted to do,” added Hansen, formerly chair of Hawke’s Bay United - the only female to have such a role in New Zealand’s men’s national league. “It gave me the strength to know I could contribute. It was inspirational and incredible to be amongst other selected people from all over the world. Now some 18 months later I have a dream role.

“There are so many things to be excited about with the legacy programme and it is such a positive to be involved in such a long-term change.”

Aotearoa United: Legacy Starts Now can be downloaded and read in full here.

New Zealand Football launches FIFA Women’s World Cup 2023 legacy plan -  Aotearoa United: Legacy Starts Now (Image courtesy NZF/Phototek)