Three Bay of Plenty clubs have announced a groundbreaking partnership in an effort to provide opportunities for players and coaches to succeed at the highest levels of women’s football.
Tauranga City, Otumoetai and Papamoa have joined forces to create a comprehensive female football development pathway, through a partner entity called FC Tauranga Moana.
Key initial objectives are:
- To become the region’s first New Zealand Football-accredited Female Talent Development Programme (TDP).
- To have a senior team gain promotion to the Lotto NRFL Women’s Premiership.
Announcing the wahine programme, the partner clubs said: “The decision to forge this alliance, which has been under consideration for several years, marks a significant milestone in the local female football landscape.
“In 2023, its inaugural year, FCTM established the largest football development programme in the Bay of Plenty. This expansion demonstrates its commitment to better serving female players of all ages.
“This collaboration is poised to redefine female football in Tauranga, setting the stage for a future where female players and coaches have opportunities to excel and make their mark in the sport.”
What the clubs say
Brendon McHugh, chair, Tauranga City:
“Discussions have been ongoing for several years between the clubs, so it’s great to see this ready for the 2024 season. I commend all the volunteers across the clubs over the last few months who’ve worked on this. The opportunities are exciting; our female players and coaches in Tauranga Moana will have an opportunity to build something special.”
Phill Mulligan, president, Otumoetai:
“Otumoetai Football Club are pleased to announce this partnership with TCFC and PFC in growing the women’s space in football in the BOP. This new development is aimed at allowing all our senior female players to play at a competitive level and be in a position to compete with the best in the country.
“This is not something that has happened quickly with many hours of talks, negotiations and commitment. I would like to thank all of those involved in making this happen, both within OFC and also TCAFC and PFC.
“We look forward to where this venture may lead, and OFC will continue to support and encourage all of their female players in whatever pathway they choose to follow.”
Maaka Nelson, chair, Papamoa:
“This is a significant milestone and credit to everyone that has invested significant hours in achieving. It is a game changer for our region. We’ve had to work really hard not only with discussions within clubs but also discussions within our own federation(s) and national body.
“Football framework is extremely regulated and not necessarily conducive to different regional differences. Perseverance has paid off and make no mistake, we have arrived. Now is the time to work together and get Tauranga football to the top of the mountain.”
What the programme leaders say
Maia Ririnui, executive committee member, FC Tauranga Moana:
“It’s historically been difficult for females to excel in our sport from this region. So a key aim for us is to provide a local option that allows talented players with ambition to achieve more of their goals here.”
Jo Arnold, executive committee member, FC Tauranga Moana:
“This is an exciting milestone for female footballers in the Bay of Plenty. A dedicated pathway enables coaches, players and supporters to create and build a female specific community that supports and inspires females to achieve their footballing aspirations in all areas of the game.
“For too long, our talented local players have had to leave our region to follow their football dreams, but not any more.
“Ehara taku toa i te toa takitahi engari he toa takimano, my strength is not that of the individual, but that of the collective.”
About FC Tauranga Moana
FCTM was established ahead of the 2023 football season by the Tauranga City and Papamoa clubs, in response to an approach from New Zealand Football.
The initiative aimed to address under-representation of BOP players in national youth squads, by addressing issues such as a lack of player depth, relative weakness in local leagues, and limited exposure to national selectors.
Following the achievement of NZF accreditation for its Skills Centre (SKC) and Talent Development Programme (TDP), FCTM entered teams in NRFL Youth Mixed competitions and the Boys Youth National League.
However, a comprehensive female pathway was still absent.
Extensive discussions between Tauranga football clubs, WaiBOP Football, NZ Football, Northern Regional Football and Sport Bay of Plenty resumed at the end of the 2023 season with the goal of incorporating a full female pathway.