New Zealand Football have released a new plan for the next three years’ worth of national competitions and there is something quite remarkable about it – I agree with almost every word!
The highlights from my perspective are:
- The National Women’s League will stay federation based for now and move to two full rounds robin from 2018 onwards.
- Both the NWL and the men’s national league will be remaining predominantly summer based.
- While recognising the need for a pathway for ambitious clubs, we’re going to take a bit of a breather before rushing into promotion/relegation.
- It looks like a New Zealand based franchise in Australia’s W-League is very much on the cards.
Not everyone will agree with me on all of these points and some readers won’t agree with any of them, but let me briefly explain where I’m coming from.
As I have said many times on this site, a double round robin is essential for the National Women’s League in my opinion. It’s a great little competition and to have it end after just a handful of games was indefensible. Yes, this move will mean extra cost for the federations, but hey everything costs money and taking women’s football seriously should be a priority. Keeping it federation based for now ensures that player development remains paramount. I’m sure there will be a move to clubs after 2020 but for now – more apple shortcake at John Kerkhof!!
Call me selfish, and maybe I am, but having football to go out and enjoy 12 months of the year is the one thing that football in this country has that makes being a fan here better than anywhere else in the world. You can’t please everyone, but summer football certainly both suits and pleases me.
The national league season that has just finished was arguably the most competitive ever. Things are still evolving and let’s be honest the game is not anywhere close to being financially sustainable at this stage. I am far from convinced that allowing open season on clubs playing their way into the national league at the expense of established entities is going to do anyone any favours. I think it would just lead to a whole lot of clubs wasting money they don’t have trying to get in, then flaming out when their funding dries up. Aren’t there better things to spend all that time, effort and money on?
On that note, I also welcome the line in the report about “reviewing global best practice regarding player reimbursements in amateur leagues.” It will be interesting to see if that comes to anything.
And finally, the idea of a W-League team in this country excites me greatly and if it’s based in Auckland you can put me down for a season ticket right now. But the biggest benefit of this is to the Football Ferns Development Programme. Instead of trying to be like a pro team playing in a boys’ league, they can be a real pro team in a pro league, get paid and not run out of petrol on the way to training. I hope we can find a way to make it happen.
The only thing I’m not overly wild about in the report is letting national league franchises enter the Chatham Cup. I’m worried that we will see the same teams that have dominated the summer leagues dominating the cup and it will lose one of its greatest attractions – that fact that we get a different winner almost every year. But if that’s the worst development in the game over the next three years I will be very happy indeed.
I know that not everything posted on this site makes the good folks at NZF do cartwheels of joy and maybe I can be a bit whiney sometimes so it’s important that I do give credit where it’s due! In that spirit I want to congratulate them on a report that seems both sensible and realistic as well as making real progress for the women’s game.
A grassroots sports photography enthusiast based in Auckland, New Zealand, and a fan of the most magnificent football club on earth - A.S. Roma.