New Zealand Football has just appointed its fourth chief executive in five years. A former All Whites captain sends an open letter to latest boss Andy Martin.
OPINION: Dear Andy,
Welcome to our beautiful country. I sincerely hope you did your due diligence and know what you're getting yourself into.
Many a good man has come and quickly disappeared before you, recognising they were fighting a losing battle within New Zealand Football. I hope you have brought some steely resolve and are prepared to roll up the sleeves and fight for change over the long haul.
I'm certain you will have received the rose-tinted version of the state of the All Whites, so here's a heads-up on the major issues facing you, and them.
By the time you reach your post early next year, you will have a copy of the review, orchestrated by Sport New Zealand boss Peter Miskimmin, into the debacle that was the All Whites' 2014 World Cup qualifying campaign. While I expect that process will be thorough, please dig deeper into the root of the problem by undertaking your own assessment.
Speak to the players involved, speak to the people with a close association to the game who know how things should be done at top international level.
I'm sure that only then will you start to get a feel for the magnitude of the job at hand.
While the NZF board and their few advocates will point towards the women's side of the game as a measure of success, please do not be fooled.
Yes, the Football Ferns are flying high at present and their achievements should not be devalued, but the All Whites are still the flagship team within the organisation.
Their failings are symptomatic of the greater shortcomings of NZF.
You have got a massive challenge on your hands to find a way forward for a team that has a huge amount of potential in the coming years. That potential will only be realised through consistent and challenging games. Put simply, the All Whites can no longer be allowed to rot in the Oceania confederation.
Two meaningful games every four years, should they not make the Confederations Cup or World Cup, as happened in the most recent cycle, is only going to yield regression, not growth.
As NZF has shown in the past, it is nigh on impossible to guarantee regular friendlies against top opposition. Therefore, just how you can manufacture a transition into Asia where competitive games will be a regular feature of the calendar is the big question, and one that is going to require a lot of energy and skill.
No matter what decisions are made about how to advance the All Whites, please never again allow the national shirt to be devalued with the thinking that it is ok to ratify practice matches against club sides.
As you'll be aware, the other momentous exercise you'll be required to commence, is finding the side a new coach. We've read you're a life-long Liverpool fan. You should therefore have an appreciation for the way the modern game is played and the style we need to adopt as a nation - possession-based with an attacking focus.
Unfortunately, you're not going to find the level of coach required for the job at this point in time on our shores. It is critical you cast the net wide and far to ensure we get the right person to lead our exciting young talent into a new era.
One piece of advice in your search, do not take the easy option and say lack of funds is restricting you getting your man. Go out and find the money through sponsors or individual donors, just as most businesses and organisations do when they need to generate capital.
There are plenty of people who are desperate to see the All Whites succeed on the international stage and would be willing to contribute financially.
I don't want to bombard you all at once with the numerous issues you will face when you arrive at NZF, so will write to you again at a later point.
Just keep in mind that outside of the All Whites there are bigger issues at play that will require your attention. For starters, we haven't even begun on the leaking business model.
Trying to unite the disjointed structures within the game, creating an effective elite development programme for young players, ensuring the continued evolution of the women's game and forming a stronger working relationship with the Wellington Phoenix are just some of the challenges you are going to encounter.
Finally, the last thing the sport needs is another puppet to the NZF board.
Good luck, you're going to need it.
Danny Hay is a former All Whites captain.
- Sunday Star Times
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