Ferns add their signatures to The Ball as it nears its Eden Park destination

The Ball — football’s equivalent to the Olympic torch — has been signed by members of the New Zealand team as they prepare for the opening game at the FIFA Women’s World Cup.

Project leaders Andrew Aris, a former New Zealand U-20 international, and Iris Albulet, met the Ferns at their Auckland training base to explain the motivation for carrying The Ball from London to Auckland.

Main photo: Ferns head The Ball as they make their pledges of support. Photo credit: Spirit of Football.

Using the motto One Ball, One World, The Ball has been used to promote gender equality and climate change awareness through workshops, games of football and other suitable events, as a project team has carried it across the planet.

The goal was to bring The Ball, and have it covered in signatures by the time it arrived in Auckland, in time for the opening day of the FIFA Women’s World Cup.

After collecting signatures and pledges of support from more than 10,000 people in Europe, North America, the Middle East, Asia and Oceania, The Ball has been taken to events in the upper North Island since arriving in New Zealand.

For their part in the project, Ferns co-captain Ali Riley pledged her team’s commitment to continue their engagement and push for better conditions for girls and women to play sports not just in New Zealand, but around the world.

After the opening game of the tournament, it will head to Wellington on July 24.

The Football Ferns with The Ball. Photo credit: Spirit of Football.
Ferns sign The Ball. Photo credit: Spirit of Football.
Co-captain Ali Riley with The Ball. Photo credit: Spirit of Football.

RNZ interview

Listen here to a 10-minute RNZ interview with The Ball project leader Andrew Aris:

READ MORE: Our previous stories about The Ball >>>>

READ MORE: Open letter: ‘How we can use football to create a better world’ >>>>

How The Ball gets people talking

Since 2002, more than 56,000 people in 56 countries have signed The Ball.

From 2022 to 2023, 57 partner organizations have organized more than 30 events and workshops that have encouraged action on climate change and gender equality amongst football enthusiasts.

Where it all started

Katie Rood gets the project underway at London’s Battersea Park.

The first person to sign The Ball on its 12-month global climate action and advocacy mission was Football Fern Katie Rood, who plays for Hearts in Scotland, and who kicked off The Ball’s journey in London.

“Everyone loves the World Cup, but if we are to be able to continue playing it in the future, we need collective and urgent climate action. The journey of The Ball across land and sea from London to New Zealand is an opportunity for football to get its environmental act in order. I am going to take action. Are you?”

Spirit of Football’s Ambassador and Liverpool FC manager Jürgen Klopp is also supporting The Ball: “It is a ball for us all. Be part of our team. Everyone can play. Respect your teammates, your opponents and the environment. One Ball, One World.”

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