Schools, sports clubs, and community groups are pouring into the stadiums for the FIFA Women’s World Cup around Aotearoa New Zealand, making good use of the Community Group Sales option and the friendly kick-off times.
The rural settlement of Poolburn in the Ida Valley was left quiet when the entire local school hopped on a bus for the three-hour trip to Dunedin/Ōtepoti to watch Argentina take on South Africa.
All 46 pupils, teachers and some lucky parents left early in the morning for the midday kick-off to experience the FIFA Women’s World Cup and witnessed a thrilling 2-2 draw.
“This was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to experience a World Cup so close to us, so we were not going to miss that,” said principal Melissa Gare.
The principal explained that the population in the tiny Central Otago settlement is “very sporty”, but up until now, mainly interested in rugby, cricket, and hockey.
“Soccer is definitely on the up and up,” said Gare, who added that the recent visit of a local Football Development Officer had encouraged some youngsters to form the first-ever Poolburn football team to enter a local competition.
“They need to travel a lot for their games, but we are used to that down here, so the trip to Dunedin was not too far for us,” said the principal, who added that some teachers have been using the digital learning tool Kōtuitui, which was developed by New Zealand Football and Sport New Zealand, in the lead-up to the match.
Kōtuitui helps children develop their cultural intelligence skills and enable them to better connect with people to celebrate Aotearoa New Zealand’s bicultural roots and our ever-growing multicultural landscape.
Another school that fully embraced the midday kick-off is Trinity Catholic College from Dunedin/Ōtepoti, who made the short trip to the match with more than 200 students.
English teacher Maggie McGarry explained the school decided to use the biggest sports event ever to hit the southern city as a focal point for their learning.
“We’ve been using the World Cup for a whole variety of inquiry-based learning,” says McGarry who admits she has no strong affinity with football but recognised the opportunity to engage with her students.
“We took all our Year 9 and Year 10 students to the match, about 200 in total. The Year 9 students have been studying the topic of ‘Divides and Connections’ and the FIFA Women’s World Cup has been quite timely where we discuss how sport brings unity.”
On top of the learning, students were excited to attend a game of such high calibre. The teacher explained how the FIFA Women’s World Cup was a fantastic opportunity to combine the curriculum with a major event in their own backyard, from English to Health, Social Sciences and Geography.
“We are all learning about the diversity that the 32 teams bring to this event.”
Further north, in Hamilton/Kirikiriroa, students from St Paul’s Collegiate are also gearing up to join the FIFA Women’s World Cup when 55 students will travel to Waikato Stadium to watch the superstars from Sweden take on Argentina.
St Paul’s has a strong football pedigree with its top team finishing third in Aotearoa New Zealand’s secondary school competition.
“We decided to give the students the experience, as it will enable them to better understand the impact the FIFA Women’s Football World Cup will have on themselves, others and New Zealand’s society,” said Sports Science teacher Ryan McCarthy, who explained that the final assessment of a school project module will be a speech written by each of the students on the significance of the FIFA Women’s World Cup.
The Community Group Sales option has been embraced by clubs and schools around the country, enabling a group of fans to attend games, that otherwise may not have been part of the FIFA Women’s World Cup.
They include football clubs, but also groups from rugby clubs and other codes swept up in the football frenzy in Aotearoa New Zealand.
Acknowledgement: This story was provided by FIFA.