Wendi Henderson Guiding the Next Generation of Female Footballers

  • Post category:Women

(Article from www.nzfootball.co.nz)

Young talent continues to grow

New Zealand Football is continuing to offer strong development pathways to the nation’s young footballing talent as it seeks to cement its place at the top of the regions’ hierarchy as Oceania Football Confederation reports.

May 6, 2013

AUCKLAND – NZF recently completed its seventh round of National Talent Centres (NTC) since the programme began in 2010, which saw three NTCs held over five days around New Zealand including Christchurch, Fielding and Auckland.

Head of football development Bev Priestman says last week’s event included players who have come through the whole cycle which has allowed staff to see the difference the player pathway is having on young footballers.

“We are constantly working two U-17 cycles ahead so the goal for these players is the 2014 and 2016 women’s World Cups and the 2015 and 2017 men’s World Cups. 

“The idea behind the programme is to identify the best players and work closely on developing them to compete at these international events,” says Priestman.

“We have been able to create a database of all the players involved and have room, after each camp, to use a scoring system to assess and review the group. That means players identified through the regional talent centres are pitched against players in the review groups to fill any remaining spots at the NTCs.

“New Zealand is a small country and there is limited talent so we can’t afford to miss any.”

Last week at Auckland Grammar School the Auckland NTC was held for female players identified from the Northern, Auckland, Waikato Bay of Plenty football federations.

While on the surface it was just another camp, it was in fact a unique and historic event. Not only was it an all-girls affair on the field, but the NTC was also run by a full set of female staff, from coaches to physiotherapists.

The move is part of New Zealand Football’s vision for women’s elite football, unveiled in early March 2013, to have the women’s game played, officiated, coached and managed by females by 2021.

Priestman says it was one of the best NTCs so far, with a number of current and former Football Ferns on the coaching team helping to mould the nation’s future internationals.

“Everyone here is working together and sharing sessions. In the past females have perhaps lacked in confidence because they have been a minority, whereas here they have the support to excel in their roles and their confidence is growing. All of them have played for New Zealand at some point and that also gives them credibility.”

Coach Wendi Henderson, who won 64 caps for the Football Ferns over a 21-year international career, was present at her first NTC after earning her coaching badges back in the early 2000s.

Last October Henderson was a course educator at the first ever all-female senior level 2 course and says it is great to be a part of growing the game amongst female players.

“This is huge. From the age of 11-12 years old, these players are learning the habits and technical traits of being a better player and at such a young age.  Then hopefully they will go on to become our international representatives, which is what it is all about,” Henderson says.

“It is a higher level so it’s those girls that want to be here, who actually want to learn and put in the effort. And the bonus is that technically, they’re quite good players. But it’s also providing the opportunity for them to get out and give things a go in a safe environment where they can try new things.”