Football Ferns 'source of inspiration'
CHANTAL 'SHORTY' BAKER
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On Monday night, I witnessed the stamina of the NZ Football Ferns VS Brazil at Mt Smart Stadium.
The final score was 1-1 and it was an entertaining game with both teams looking to use positive attacking plays.
The NZ Football Ferns are currently ranked 20th in the world, not bad really, where Brazil are ranked sixth in the world, so a draw with them can only be seen as respectable.
Below are the top 10 teams of the world:
Over the past couple of years the reputation of the Football Ferns has grown because the team is competing consistently.
Teams in the top 10 want to play the Football Ferns because they're competitive, so this brings reason and opportunities to have our team play on home soil.
There's a consistent level of achievement from this (what some say is a) young team. The spectators saw a superb match up with all the drama you could want in a game.
The Football Ferns show confidence and heart, but more importantly they have the right balance of decision-making players, to make for a successful team.
There was an impressive work rate from centres Ria Percival and Betsy Hassett, who runs like she has a third lung.
They were physical and were a threat on both attack and defence.
To complete the centre trio is Katie Hoyle, who uses her leadership skills and experience to support Ria and Betsy well.
The centre trio gave near 6ft wing, Hannah Wilkinson, opportunities out wide to attack, which she did and played an important role in the feed to Rosie White's goal.
Rosie White, 21, with 57 caps, has come through the NZ development grades, growing up in Auckland.
In 2008, White was a star player in the U-17 and U-20 NZ teams that played at the FIFA U-17 and U-20 World Cups.
The inaugural 2008 U-17 tournament was hosted here in NZ over four venues; North Harbour Stadium, Waikato Stadium, Wellington Stadium and Christchurch's stadium at the time, QEII Stadium.
It's impressive to learn that there is a high level of experience in this team because 11 players have played more than 50 times for NZ.
Five of these 11 players have played over 75 times for NZ: Amber Hearn (29) has 83 caps, Kirsty Yallop (28) has 79 caps, Katie Hoyle (27) with 87 caps, Ria Percival (26) has 89 caps, and captain Abby Erceg (26) with an impressive 97 caps.
Erceg started playing for the NZ senior team at the age of 17.
Overall, there were open running plays and commitment from all players on the pitch that made the game enjoyable to watch.
The market of football is insanely global and its great our very own NZ football girls get to experience such a life.
They play up to four international tournaments per year, playing approximately eight to 10 tests per year, which is a great amount of playing time, and live exposure of the football brand.
When they are not playing international tournaments for NZ, they are playing and training full-time with their club or university teams.
The girls get an international experience, playing the game they love, while travelling the world, not to mention the opportunity to get their education paid for, through their university scholarships.
11/20 = 55 per cent of the Football Ferns 2014 squad play their football overseas in either: England, Germany, Sweden and USA. The remaining team members play in NZ, having already finished their overseas experience.
This Brazil series is part of the team's build up to the World Cup qualifier tournament in August, just like rugby's Black Ferns, who last week ended their four test series against Australia, Manu Sina Samoa and Canada.
This rugby international series was part of each team's preparation for the Rugby World Cup beginning on August 1 in Paris.
It has been a great three weeks of having international women's sports played here in the North Island; rugby and football.
Some people enjoy the debate of comparing why rugby or football is better than the other.
But in essence the actual skill game of rugby and football cannot be compared; they are very different sports because they use a different set of core skills.
But one facet that can be compared is the equalling level of playing excitement, promotion and brand exposure both the Black Ferns and the Football Ferns teams have brought to their fans in NZ.
Here are two positive teams who are extremely competitive on a global stage.
Their success generates more opportunities for our female athletes, as well as coaching and management personal. They really are great role models and a source of inspiration.
Long may the NZ Rugby uUnion and NZ Football continue their work in the growth of the women's game.
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