Northern Football 4, New Zealand Development 3
North Harbour Stadium, Auckland, November 29 2015
The New Zealand women’s national football team just beat Brazil 1-0 IN BRAZIL!
What a result! But what’s even more extraordinary is it wasn’t that surprising. It’s not a major upset. The Football Ferns are simply that good. They are, for mine, the best national team of any code we have and this is a real reflection of just how awesome women’s football generally is in this country. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, we don’t know how lucky we are to be able to wander up to suburban parks and watch players, in the flesh, who either play or push for selection for a country ranked 16 in the world.
And straight after such an achievement from the Ferns, what better way to spend an afternoon than to head along and watch the next generation of Ferns taking on a team packed with current and former age-group and full internationals in the Preliminary Final of the ASB Women’s League!
This was a game with a scoreline that tells a different story to the contest itself. In reality, Northern always had this under control from the moment Emma Rolston made it 2-0 just before the half hour mark after an Estelle Harrison corner had curled straight in to give the favourites the early lead. Jacqui Hand briefly pulled the lead back to a single goal in the 74th minute but it only took two minutes after that for Harrison to double her tally and restore her side’s two goal advantage. Nine minutes after that it was 4-1 via Rolston and two injury time NZD goals from Hand and Michela Foster (penalty) were too little too late to prevent Northern from taking a deserved berth in next week’s final.
Given that the final is in Christchurch, and the cost of flights is waaaaaaaay outside my price range unfortunately, this was my last foreseeable women’s football game of 2015. It therefore seems like a god time to have a quick review of the year.
Highlight – The promotion to NRFL Women’s Premier of Hamilton Wanderers was definitely my highlight. Not only is it great to see a second team from my home province involved next year, but it was an exciting tie with Metro that made it happen.
Lowlight – The sexism that despite the growth in awareness and popularity of the women’s game is still around us. It was most starkly illustrated for me this year by the head-deskingly frustrating debate on YF about the possibility of a Phoenix W-League team.
Best game – Without any shadow of a doubt this was the Eastern Suburbs vs Western Springs Women’s knockout Cup Quarter Final at Madills Farm. Decided in extra time after more twists than a Joss Whedon TV series on acid.
Worst game – all the 10+ goal thumpings I saw. They are never nice really. There were four of them this year, which is up on 2014 although part of that is my fault with the games I select.
Favourite player – Paige Satchell. I found myself mesmerised by her pace on so many occasions! I have gone on about it enough in previous posts without going on about it any further in this one. Just suffice it to say she was my player of the year and the scary thing is she is still ridiculously young. Her best is yet to come and it’s going to be quite something.
Hopes for next season – Lots more fun and interest for the spectator. Two closely contested leagues in the NRFL and ASB Women’s League. But most importantly I hope to see more player smiles and skills that are the greatest hallmarks of women’s football in my opinion.
Categories: NZ Women's National League
A grassroots sports photography enthusiast based in Auckland, New Zealand, and a fan of the most magnificent football club on earth - A.S. Roma.