Proud Kiwi and FIFA Chief Women’s Football Officer Sarai Bareman has said that hosting the FIFA Women’s World Cup would be a massive boost for this country, both from a footballing point of view and in general.
Ms Bareman, who holds the highest-ranking position in the female game, made a rare return to these shores this week and was accompanied by a very special guest – the official FIFA Women’s World Cup trophy.
The visit of the famous silverware was timely as New Zealand Football has recently submitted its expression of interest in hosting the 2023 edition of the FIFA Women’s World Cup and Ms Bareman said that doing so would be of huge benefit.
“I think for any country to host a World Cup is massive. In terms of what it does for the sport, raising the popularity of it and increasing participation but also for the economy and the country itself,” she said.
Right to host
The right to host one of the largest sporting events on the planet is set to be more fiercely contested than ever before with a record nine nations putting their hands up.
All will be confident of launching compelling bids but New Zealand has several unique selling points, such as its track record of successfully hosting major sporting events, its reputation as a top tourist destination and the rapid progress it has made in women’s football.
Ms Bareman is delighted to see a country so dear to her heart throw its hat into the ring.
“The expressions of interest for the 2023 FIFA Women’s World Cup have been the biggest that we have ever received in the history of FIFA,” she said.
“From New Zealand’s perspective, I think it is great that they are doing it. For me, it really shows that they are prioritising women’s football. They have got some tough competition but the positive impact it could have on the country is huge.”
World Cup in Auckland
Ms Bareman spent time on the hallowed turf of Auckland’s iconic Eden Park as the official FIFA Women’s World Cup Trophy Tour came to town – the latest stop on a route that includes all 24 nations competing in this year’s edition of the showpiece of women’s football, which takes place in France during June and July.
As a part of the Trophy tour celebrations, hundreds of young school children took to the outer oval at Eden Park to show off their football skills in a festival format, as well as getting the chance to have their photo taken with the World Cup trophy.
Football Ferns Striker Hannah Wilkinson was present to provide some advice and pose for photos.
“It is fantastic to have all these children out here enjoying football,” New Zealand Football Interim CEO Andrew Pragnell said.
“To also have the trophy for the biggest women’s sporting event in the world right here makes it a fabulous day. And to have Sarai here, our very own home-grown FIFA leader, is a really proud moment for football,” he said..
“It is great timing with New Zealand Football having just expressed our interest in hosting the next World Cup. We are confident of putting in a really competitive bid and New Zealand is a great place to come. The key thing is making sure everything is compliant and that the bid is really attractive but I think we stand a good chance.”
The women’s game in New Zealand has experienced unprecedented growth in recent years – participation rates have increased by 35% since 2011 – and there have been numerous key milestones lately.
For example, election of Johanna Wood as the first-ever female President a historic, Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA) achieved by the Football Ferns, expansion of the National Women’s League to two rounds, the national knockout competition being rebranded as the New Zealand Football Foundation Kate Sheppard Cup, the success of the Future Ferns Domestic Programme (FFDP) and female-only coaching courses and scholarship programmes being introduced are all great signs of the progress of Women’s football.
Under 17 Team progress
The New Zealand U-17 women’s team meanwhile showed what can be achieved on the global stage with a ground-breaking third-place finish at the 2018 FIFA U-17 Women’s World Cup last November.
“I think that there is a strong momentum behind the women’s game here at the moment. The grassroots movement and the player pathway is really strong. We saw a result of that in Uruguay at the U-17 World Cup with how well the squad performed. The growth in New Zealand has really been spectacular,” Ms Bareman said.
“I think there is still a lot of work to do but great progress is certainly being made, particularly with the new leadership, where we have just seen a woman President elected for the first ever time. That’s amazing and I think women’s football is just going to go from strength-to-strength in New Zealand,” she said.
Report and Pictures sent by New Zealand Football.
- FIFA Women’s World Cup-Hannah Wilkinson and Sarai Bareman-Photosport
- Thousands of people visited Eden Park in Auckland to view the FIFA Women’s World Cup
(Pictures by Photosport through New Zealand Football)