Children benefit from gift of Unity Pitch to primary school in Auckland

The FIFA World Women’s Cup may have left Aotearoa New Zealand, but the spirit of the biggest women’s sporting event to land on these shores will remain alive through its Unity Pitch concept.

FIFA has gifted a Unity Pitch to the community in Auckland/Tāmaki Makaurau, while other parts have been used to create a second artificial pitch at Beach Haven School on the city’s North Shore.

The Unity Pitch was one of the most visible icons of the FIFA Women’s World Cup, travelling the host cities ahead of the opening match before it became the footballing heart of the FIFA Fan Festival during the tournament.

In September, the Unity Pitch was lifted from its recent home at The Cloud on Queen’s Wharf to be installed permanently at a location in Auckland/Tāmaki Makaurau, to be decided by Auckland Council.

FIFA had bought enough back-up turf material for repairs to create a second smaller pitch, so students of Beach Haven Primary School were delighted to find the colourful turf installed on top of an old netball court.

Main photo: The children at Beach Haven Primary School in Auckland enjoy their new sports pitch thanks to the FIFA Women’s World Cup 2023.

“The kids couldn’t believe their eyes when they showed up on Monday,” said Beach Haven Primary School Deputy Principal Anoushka Dallow.

“It was so exciting for us and for the students. That particular court was hardly used by our students and today it was packed with kids playing all kinds of sports on it,” said the deputy principal.

“Ten of thousands of footballers of all ages have enjoyed the Unity Pitch during its travels around Aotearoa New Zealand and we are excited it will now have two permanent homes in Auckland/Tāmaki Makaurau for young girls and boys to enjoy for many years to come,” says FIFA Women’s World Cup 2023 Chief Operating Officer New Zealand Jane Patterson.

The Unity Pitch … well used and much enjoyed during the lead-up to the FIFA Women’s World Cup.

The Unity Pitch started its travels around Aotearoa New Zealand in January when it was installed in the heart of Auckland/Tāmaki Makaurau before it moved around to Hamilton Lake in Hamilton/Kirikiriroa, Logan Park in Dunedin/Ōtepoti, Queen’s Wharf in Wellington/Te Whanganui-a-Tara and a brief stint in the Soundshell at Napier/Ahuriri, before it returned to the FIFA Fan Festival in Auckland/Tāmaki Makaurau.

Over that period, the five cities that hosted the Unity Pitch organised numerous tournaments and games, with more than 44,000 players using the artificial playing surface and thousands more watching from the sidelines.

“The FIFA Women’s World Cup in Australia and Aotearoa New Zealand has been an overwhelming success and the Unity Pitch played an important role in bringing the event to the community. We are pleased that the legacy of this tournament will be visible and accessible every day in two lucky communities in Auckland/Tāmaki Makaurau,” says Patterson.

Auckland … one of the four host cities in Aotearoa New Zealand. Photo credit: FIFA.

The main Unity Pitch is being checked and repaired by the experts at Game On Turf, who created and moved the pitch around the country.

Game on Turf Managing Director Bevan Williamson says that some of the panels of the pitch were slightly worn due to the transport and wet weather, but those parts will be replaced at its final destination.

“The pitch is still in great condition, despite so many people using it, and once we have refurbished it, young footballers in Auckland will have an amazing football pitch for the next decade.”

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