A bumper Friday evening crowd have enjoyed the first exhibition game played by Friends of Football’s newly-launched women’s All Stars — a team of former Football Ferns and age group internationals.
Their debut match was an open and entertaining affair against Mt Albert Grammar School’s girls team at Auckland United’s Keith Hay Park.
The game gave both teams chance to show what they could do.
The All Stars (with almost 500 full international caps between them) showed skills and a speed of thought that reflected their achievements.
The MAGS players took time to find their feet — coach Kate Inwood said later a few players were “starstruck” at first — but put together some excellent passing moves, and gained more territorial advantage as the game went on.
MAGS’ Sharon Tomokino scored the goal of the game, crashing home a 25-metre shot to the joy of a supportive crowd.
The score — if anyone was really counting — was 8-1 to the All Stars but the result was unimportant to more than 250 spectators who cheered every move, regardless of which side was responsible.
Led by former Fern Katie Duncan, the All Stars want to play open and entertaining football to inspire school players to reach their potential as footballers.
More games planned for the All Stars
At the aftermatch function, Friends of Football chair Josh Easby said the All Stars team continued a tradition started by former England international and New Zealand coach Ken Armstrong who more than 50 years ago, established an Auckland team called the Corinthians.
The team of former internationals played schools in exhibition games.
“We were particularly thrilled tonight to see Ken’s granddaughter, Bridgette, playing for the All Stars, and helping us to continue the tradition he started,” Easby said.
Addressing the MAGS players, he said: “Tonight you’ve shared a pitch with some of the best players this country has produced. Nothing would give us a greater thrill than to see some of you become future All Stars and to remember that it started for you tonight.”
Already, Friends of Football are planning more games for the women’s All Stars, and will re-launch their men’s All Stars team who have been sidelined for the past two years due to COVID-related restrictions.
The women’s All Stars have been two years in the making and only now, with the easing of spectator restrictions for games, are the players able to take the field.
Friday’s All Stars’ squad:
Bridgette ARMSTRONG, Corina BROWN, Caitlin CAMPBELL, Katie DUNCAN, Rachel HEAD, Maia JACKMAN, Emma KETE, Chloe KNOTT, Pip MEO, Tess MURPHY, Tayla O’BRIEN, Marlies OOSTDAM, Jasmine PEREIRA, Martine PUKETAPU, Melissa RAY, Hannah WALL, Rosie WHITE, Kirsty YALLOP.
Coach: Katie DUNCAN.Team managers: Claire HAMILTON, Cathleen BIAS.
Friends of Football produced a digital match programme which you can read here:
Print-friendly version of match programme
Our photo gallery from a memorable game … please click on image to open to full size:
Video — a celebration of women’s football
Our video camera was at the game — click here to see our video of an outstanding evening >>>>
Friends of Football thanks Auckland United for hosting our game at Keith Hay Park and for providing outstanding food and hospitality at our aftermatch function.
Thanks also to David Twiname for contributing some of the photographs in our gallery, and to Ultimate Soccer NZ‘s writer Jeremy Ruane for attending and ensuring this game will go into his ever-growing archive of information about women’s football.
Friends of Football’s men’s All Stars
Friends of Football also have a men’s team that launched in 2019 with games against Westlake Boys and St Peter’s College.
The disruption caused by COVID-19 prevented games in 2020-21 but plans are underway to re-launch the team in 2022.