ITBOTN has written extensively about the issues raised by Abby Erceg in announcing her international retirement due to what she sees as the undervaluing of women’s football by the national body – New Zealand Football.
One of the significant problems she highlighted is the plight of local based players who train in a so-called professional environment but struggle to meet their financial commitments as they attempt to juggle training, tours and work amongst other things.
Abby said that she knew of teammates who had broken down under the stress, and she mentioned that there were cases of players running out of petrol on their way to training because they couldn’t afford to fill up their tanks.
I posted a rant (or two), Helena wrote beautifully and much more sensibly than me about her reaction as a young woman in the game, and Cordwainer Bull attempted to address one of the most common critiques of our editorial line – “yeah, but what’s the solution?”
As a small gesture towards the solution, Monsieur Bull offered up a fantastic piece of football history – a pennant from the very first national women’s tournament in 1976 – for auction on Trade Me. He suggested that I use the proceeds to buy “the biggest possible jerry can of petrol, pop along to the next Football Ferns practice and squirt a bit in every player’s car.”
Well, just so you know we aren’t all talk, this isn’t a million miles away from what we have done.
The winning bidder paid $200 for the pennant and to mitigate the downside of using auctions as fundraisers the second highest bidder also kicked in the money they would have paid – giving us a grand total of $300.
I converted this into petrol vouchers, and earlier today I caught up with former Football Fern Sarah Gregorius to hand them over. Sarah is on the board of the NZ Professional Footballers’ Association (the players’ union) and as part of her role there she is administering a hardship fund they have set up for the Ferns to help meet some of the expenses that NZF can’t. This makes her ideally placed to distribute the vouchers to the players who need help the most.
It was great to be able to contribute in a small but practical way to addressing this problem, so a huge thanks to Cordwainer Bull for taking the initiative and I really hope it inspires others to think about what they can do to help as well.
As my friend Jeremy Ruane would say – Go you good Ferns!
Categories: Football Ferns
A grassroots sports photography enthusiast based in Auckland, New Zealand, and a fan of the most magnificent football club on earth - A.S. Roma.