Young female footballers will be able to play in girls-only leagues during the summer in a new initiative announced by New Zealand Football.
NZF women's football development manager Bev Priestman says girls are getting more chances to play football through the new Junior Girls Football Framework.
"The new framework offers girls-only football for six to 12-year-olds during the summer months. We're hoping the shift in season will attract a whole new group of girls to the game," she said.
NZ Football aims to attract more girls by offering football at times that do not clash with popular winter sports such as netball, and introducing a new format.
Since the 2008 Under-17 Women's World Cup was held in New Zealand, the female side of the sport has grown hugely. Last year in Wellington, 32 new teams joined a girls' Sunday competition.
"Games in summer could be the key to success. We will have better-quality grounds with fewer cancellations and it will give girls the opportunity to play all-year round," says Priestman.
"It also means our best coaches from winter can support the future of the girls' game in the summer."
About 19,000 females are registered in the sport. A Sparc survey in 2007-08 found that more than 47,800 women aged 16 and over had participated in football at least once during the previous year.
The framework model will be piloted in some regions in October next year, with a three-year progressive plan to implement it nationwide.
- © Fairfax NZ News
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