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Reviewing the review of the review (the women’s side)

Mainland Pride v Northern - National Women's League Final

As you may have already read in John’s post earlier today, New Zealand Football have gone out to clubs with a consultation briefing document and a survey that explores options for the next stages of the development of our national competitions.

While there are a series of possible directions that the Stirling Sports Premiership may move in that range from Rolls Royce to Lada, the National Women’s League appears to be in the process of being pushed one way and one way only for the time being. The eventual aim is a club based national league for women, but the fear is that moving towards that goal too quickly would see ‘super teams’ form around the strongest clubs that would dominate the winter leagues to the detriment of the development of others.

The solution to this is a ‘mixed model’. The top four clubs in the NRFL are set to be joined by the current federation teams from Central, Capital, Mainland and South for a single round robin run from September to November.

Clubs have been asked to provide one response each to this proposal by the end of next week but given there don’t appear to be any other choices on the table, apart from some (one assumes) possible tinkering around the edges, this appears to be a done deal.

I’m disappointed about a few things.

Firstly, it looks like there won’t be two rounds home and away in the near future. A lot of people have been calling for this recently and I strongly believe it’s the least that players and fans deserve.

Secondly, there is a major problem here with the treatment of my home province. As this proposal is written, if Claudelands or Hamilton Wanderers can’t finish in the top four of the NRFL there will be no WaiBOP representation in the national league. I don’t want to be a melodramatic ass but if that happens it will end my interest in the competition. If there is to be some tinkering they absolutely must add a rule that whichever WaiBOP team finishes highest on the NRFL ladder is guaranteed a place and I hope that is reflected in the feedback.

Thirdly, I think it’s a bit sad that the Sherman Review’s vision that all the Stirling Sports Premiership entities must also field Futsal, Youth and Women’s teams looks to be off the table at least as far as the women’s game is concerned. I liked the incentives created by all of the men’s national league teams, and all those aspiring to be men’s national league clubs, being forced to take the women’s game seriously. But let’s face it, I always knew that this was unlikely to ever happen given the high costs it would impose on a select few. Doing the right thing can be expensive and may be to the detriment of the boys and we can’t have that now can we!!!

When I first analysed the National Competitions Review I said that women’s football seemed to be something of an afterthought in it and it appears I was right. The integration of the women’s game with the men’s structure wasn’t thought through in any detail and the end result of that is true equality of the sexes is still as far away as ever.

Categories: NZ Women's National League

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Enzo Giordani

A grassroots sports photography enthusiast based in Auckland, New Zealand, and a fan of the most magnificent football club on earth - A.S. Roma.

13 replies

  1. I’m firmly of the belief that our national leagues (men’s or women’s) need first and foremost to have the best teams regardless of geography.

    Having said that it’s also important that the chance for a region not represented to qualify through some kind of process.

    For the game to move forward we need one season where the best players are playing in the best league, so that the league becomes desirable and then once you have a great product you can encourage regions to strive to be part of it.

  2. It depends what the aim of it is. If you are an Aucklander there will always be a team you can go and watch but it’s important in the regions that there are teams for people to both get passionate about and aspire to play for.

    1. Both leagues need credibility, and nothing helps that more than having a promotion/relegation system that means the best teams are there.

      Nothing is stopping a team from say Waikato taking some games to regions like BOP to give those areas exposure but I think it’s too PC to make sure all the areas have a team, especially if they consistently underperform.

      1. This proposal doesn’t do that though. Consistently underperforming teams Central and Southern are guaranteed entry while consistently better performing WaiBOP misses out altogether if Claudelands or Wanderers can’t make the NRFL top four. Not fair!! *stomps foot*

        1. I agree with Tim _in THEORY_.


          (a) as noted by Enzo, this is not applied in other regions, the rationale for which is to ensure representations and pathways for female players in those regions, and therefore the same should be applied to Waibop too.

          (b) the state of the women’s game is very tenuous domestically, particularly outside of Auckland and Christchurch.


          (i) the development AND expansion of the NWL needs to be a priority,


          (ii) it’s national coverage needs to be enshrined to give female players in ALL regions access to the NWL,


          (iii) we need to understand that in some places (i.e. outside Auckland and Christchurch) this may need investment and support from NZ Football, and (for the time being at least) not be ONLY based on merit/results.

          1. Yeah I don’t think this women’s proposal fits with what I’m saying, but I was more coming from the general POV that across both leagues it should be the best teams over a fair regional split.

  3. It defies belief that when

    1. the Football Ferns and the U20 Wee Ferns (as named by Sarah Gregorius!) are representing NZ Football so outstandingly well on the international stage

    2. FIFA is making more money than ever available to support the development of quality women’s league and women’s youth league competitions

    That NZ Football is regressing on it’s plans for the development of the women’s game domestically,

    SURELY we should be pouring resources not JUST into the National Women’s League, but also into a National Women’s Youth League so that the pathways for development of our women footballers is enhanced, so that the conveyor belt of talent that feeds the Football Ferns and U20 Wee Ferns is not just maintained but is strengthened and enhanced,

    The MINIMUM that NZ Football should be doing is:

    (a) Making the NWL a double round robin (home and away) from next year
    (b) Developing a National Women’s Youth League so that it too can be extended to a double round roubin
    (c) Retaining the commitment to require SSPremiership clubs/franchises to also have a Youth, Women’s and Futsal team.

  4. Bang on Ella.That’s simply not acceptable. At best it’s illustrative of a lack of commitment to women’s football, at worst disingenuous, ineptitude in the administration and management of women’s football.

  5. Lets start a revolution and use some of the funds being spent on all those employees at NZF who spend so much time destroying forests with the Whole of Football plan and numerous Premiership protocols and actually do something positive for football and support the whole of New Zealand Football with meaningful competitions.A second National Youth League for the girls side is paramount for development of the game but NZF cannot even get the boys side correct and more importantly for the end result do not seem to have it on their agenda. Bring them to task Enzo as it is just more of the same lack of direction or desire from the headquarters at Albany.

  6. If they wanted to make it a ‘club-based league’ – they could use the top competitions in each region… and then even out the regions (if its too congested) by having an ‘invitational’ spot.

    It might look something like the below (excuse if I get some names wrong):

    Northern Region – Northern Premier Women’s League – 3 teams
    Central Region – Women’s Central League – 2 teams
    Mid/Upper South Region – Canterbury/Mainland League Champions – 1 team
    Lower South Region – Otago/Football South League Champions – 1 team
    Invitational Team – Either an area which is under-represented or a NZ U17 Development side etc…

    You ‘qualify’ by filling the top spots available in your respective leagues… and funding from NZF (FIFA) is made available to cover flights/tournament entry/equipment costs.

    Does anyone have a copy of the document that was circulated that they can post…?

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