This year, the FIFA women’s world cup is being hosted by Australia and New Zealand; as the biggest female sporting event in the world, the tournament is already beginning to inspire the next generation of female football players.
As part of the countdown to FIFA Women’s World Cup, which kicked off last Thursday, a full-sized football pitch was erected at the foot of Aoraki Mt Cook, and teams of local girls were invited to play with the official FIFA referee and New Zealand Football National Referee Development Manager, Lindsey Robinson.
Katie Bowen and Emma Rolston of the New Zealand Football Ferns were also present as 22 girls, making up two teams, played a unique match on the pitch. The teams were named Pukaki and Tekapo for the famous alpine lakes of the same name, and after a few rounds the teams drew 1-1.
“It was a great game of football,” said Lindsey. “There’s certainly future talent here and I’m hoping to see some of these girls playing with a fern on their chest in the future,” Lindsey continued.
Bowen and Rolston attended to teach the girls some skills.
“We want to encourage more girls to play football in New Zealand, and to enjoy whay they’re doing and just to get out there and play the game,” said Bowen.
“It’s massively important for us to inspire the next generation because we want to encourage young girls to play the game,” said Bowen.
“It’s amazing to be able to inspire kids coming through,” added Rolston.
Both Rolston and Bowen started their football careers as young girls. Since then, the sport has taken them all over the world, including the United States for Bowen and Australia, Germany and Norway for Rolston.
Immy Ivey, eight, and a student at Twizel Area School described herself as a “super striker” following the game.
As part of the promotion, a new resource Beyond the Pitch has been created by FIFA to assist teachers in brining the tournament to the classroom. It’s described as a digital platform with resources which will help teachers and students to get the most from the event.
It features role models like members of the Football Ferns, and is designed to align with the New Zealand curriculum. Teachers will find lessons on cultural diversity, respect, teamwork, sustainability and belonging. Beyond the Pitch also has interactive components which can be played many times.