How the Ferns keep their cool in the heat of competition at Olympic qualifiers

Ice vests, Gatorade slushies and chilled towels are among the tools being used by the Football Ferns to cope with the hot and humid conditions at the OFC Women’s Olympic Qualifier tournament in Samoa.

Defender Rebekah Stott says the match conditions have been challenging, even for players used to the warmth of Australia and New Zealand.

“Our support staff have been incredible in helping us manage that,” Stott told a media conference ahead of Monday’s tournament final in which New Zealand play Solomon Islands. If selected, it will be Stott’s 100th full international.

Main photo: New Zealand’s Mackenzie Barry tries to cool down and rehydrate at training. Photo: Shane Wenzlick / Phototek.

The team’s group games have been played in humidity levels of 80-88%.

“We have ice slushies with the Gatorade before a game to cool our internal temperature, I guess. We have ice vests to wear before the game and at halftime just to cool us down,” Stott said.

Weather forecasts for Monday predict thundershowers in the afternoon, and humidity of 87% by the time the match starts at 5pm. The temperature is expected to be 29 degrees but will feel like 37 degrees.

Jitka Klimková … working with sports scientists to establish optimal game time for individual players. Photo: Shane Wenzlick / Phototek.

Head coach Jitka Klimková said the detailed preparation was all part of the professional support the coaching staff wanted for the players.

“It’s been very professional, and I’m very happy that players are feeling it,” she said.

“We are spending a lot of time about how we manage the players, how our trainings are going to look like, what is the right amount of loading for the players during the sessions.”

GPS tracking enables the staff to monitor game minutes and distance covered by each player.

“We are spending a lot of time with our sports scientists and talking about the right amount of time on the field for each player,” Klimková said.

“Each player has their individual evaluations and then we are setting our plan for the next training or next games.”

Monday’s final decides which nation represents Oceania at the Paris Olympics in July.


Game to be played on Monday February 19, 2024


Solomon Islands v New Zealand
FFS Football Stadium, Apia, 5pm (NZT)


New Zealand

Mackenzie Barry Wellington Phoenix FC, New Zealand
Katie Bowen Inter Milan, Italy
Claudia Bunge HB Køge, Denmark
Daisy Cleverley HB Køge, Denmark
Ava Collins  St John’s University, USA
Brianna Edwards Wellington Phoenix FC, New Zealand
Victoria Esson  Rangers FC, Scotland
Michaela Foster Wellington Phoenix FC, New Zealand
Ally Green  AGF, Denmark
Jacqui Hand Lewes FC, England
Betsy Hassett  Stjarnan FC, Iceland
Grace Jale Perth Glory, Australia
Katie Kitching Sunderland AFC, England
Anna Leat Aston Villa FC, England
Ruby Nathan Canberra United, Australia
Grace Neville  London City Lionesses, England
Gabi Rennie Unattached
Indiah-Paige Riley PSV Vrouwen, Netherlands
Rebekah Stott Melbourne City FC, Australia
Kate Taylor Wellington Phoenix FC, New Zealand
Hannah Wilkinson Melbourne City FC, Australia

Head coach: Jitka Klimková

Solomon Islands

Margaret Kofela
Claudia Votu
Edith Nari
Lisa Solo
Alisha Donga
Almah Gogoni
Mesalyn Saepio
Lleen Pegi
Jacklyn Ikama
Lorina Solosaia
Madeline Arukau
Joan Hanigaro
Sylvester Maenuu
Sharoly Saeni
Jemina David
Veronica Tolivaka
Rashida Mekawir
Kalinsa Fiua
Sandy Aniholland
Gertrude Oritaimae
Mary Maefit
Ivy Sade

Head coach: Batram Suri


Referee: Norbert Hauata (Tahiti)
Assistant referees: Vahina Teura (Tahiti) and Lata Kaumatule (Tonga)
Fourth official: Mederic Lacour (New Caledonia)
Fifth official: Jeremy Garae (Vanuatu)
Referee assessor: Jimmy Warai (Papua New Guinea)

Pathway to the final

New Zealand

Group games

New Zealand 3 (Grace Jale 2′, 16′, Ally Green 13′ pen)
Tonga 0

READ MORE: Early goals enough to see the Ferns through Olympic qualifier against Tonga >>>>

New Zealand 6 (Jacqui Hand 9′, Kate Taylor 16′, own goal 22′, Macey Fraser 34′, Ally Green 60′, Michaela Foster 74′)
Samoa 0

READ MORE: Ferns into Olympic qualifier semi-finals despite wasteful win against Samoa >>>>

Vanuatu 0
New Zealand 5 (Jacqui Hand 12′,  Betsy Hassett 21′, Indiah-Paige Riley 31′, 43′, Macey Fraser 51′)

READ MORE: Ferns cruise to big win in one-sided OFC Olympic qualifier against Vanuatu >>>>


New Zealand 7 (Indiah-Paige Riley 6′, 45+6′, Jacqui Hand 24′, 45+4′, Grace Jale 45+2′, 68′, 83′)
Fiji 1 (Cema Nasau 90+2′)

READ MORE: Ruthless Ferns move a step closer to Paris Olympics with big win against Fiji >>>>

Solomon Islands

Group games

Papua New Guinea 1 (Keren Kalapai 69’)
Solomon Islands 1 (Lorina Solosaia 30’)

Solomon Islands 7 (Lorina Solosaia 14’, 29’, 35’, 72’, 74’, Almah Gogoni 58’, Jemima David 82’)
American Samoa 1 (Lela Waetin 88’)

Solomon Islands 3 (Ileen Pegi 16’, 45+1’, 90+4′)
Fiji 1 (Narieta Leba 80’)


Solomon Islands 2 (Sandy Aniholland 65’, Ileen Pegi 78’ pen)
Samoa 0

READ MORE: Solomon Islands book place in final at OFC Women’s Olympic qualifiers >>>>

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