Football in New Zealand is undergoing a revolution with the official launch of the sport’s Whole of Football Plan in November 2010.
The Whole of Football Plan is a five to 10 year strategy to attract and retain more and better players, coaches, educators, referees and volunteers by raising the quality of experiences for all involved.
While the strategy is a national plan built on international best-practice, it is NZF’s seven member federations where the impact of the new programme will be most keenly felt by registered players and casual participants alike.
“The Whole of Football plan is a national vision for the game,” says New Zealand Football Chairman Frank van Hattum, “but it’s a vision that will be realised on local parks and at local football clubs each and every weekend.”
“As a sport, we aim to capitalise fully on the great opportunity we have at this moment in our history. Our success will be measured in the years to come by the quality and quantity of football being enjoyed by all participants, players, coaches, referees, other volunteers and spectators, as they see the numbers and technical skills of a new generation of players.”
The annual budget for dedicated Whole of Football resources of $3.2 million, or roughly half of New Zealand Football’s base budget in a non-World Cup year, illustrates just how significant an investment is being made to equipment and facilities at grassroots level.
The Government funder of sport and recreation, SPARC, have backed the plan and its impact on the sport and recreation opportunities for New Zealanders to the tune of $760,000 annually over the next three years, while NZF will balance the remainder with funds from sponsors and internal sources.
Junior footballers will be the first to see the fruits of the plan through the introduction of Fun Football Centres, Football Festivals and holiday programmes for children under 11 years of age, the First Kicks programme for 4-5 year-olds, Fun Football for 6-8 year-olds and Mini Football for 9-12 year-olds.
Teams are kept small at young ages – three-a-side for First Kicks and four-a-side for Fun Football – to give the players more time each with the ball, and more chance to develop their skills and have fun.
Based on research conducted in football associations around the world, the move to standardised small sided games is crucial to junior development and key in reducing the long term drop-out rate.
The evidence suggests long-term positive flow on effects for elite performance (All Whites and Football Ferns) as well.
A team of Federation Development Officers, trained to a national standard, will work alongside clubs to implement the new initiatives within each of the seven regional federations.
Auckland Football clubs and members will get the chance to explore the plan in more depth when New Zealand Football Director of Football Development John Herdman presents the Whole of Football Plan at the AFF Club Operations Meeting on Tuesday 9 November at Mt Smart Stadium.
Auckland Football CEO David Parker is excited by the new plan and what it will mean for the game in the region in the coming years.
"Our game is riding an unprecedented wave of popularity with the recent successes of our national, age-group and elite senior club sides on the international stage," Parker said.
"The implementation of The Whole of Football Plan nationally will allow us to harness that publicity and funnel it back into the game via a collaborative and co-ordinated structure that aims to secure an even brighter long-term future for the sport we love at all levels.
"Our federation is looking forward to the opportunity of shaping the delivery of the plan to the many thousands of stakeholders in the game in Auckland over the next several years."
The second stage of the Whole of Football plan, encompassing players, coaches and referees at Youth level will begin in two-three years time and stage three, targeting senior football, begin in around 2016.
For more information on the Whole of Football plan click the links below.