Taupō welcomes inaugural women’s pre-season football tournament

posted in: News, Uncategorized

By Rachel Lilburn

Seven teams from the Waikato and Bay of Plenty region have got their 2024 football seasons underway in Taupō at the Janine Giddy Women’s Tournament.

Waikato Unicol, from Hamilton, claimed bragging rights, winning the inaugural tournament over the weekend of March 9-10, 2024, narrowly from runners-up Cambridge.

Organisers plan to make this pre-season tournament an annual event on the football calendar, nicely timed for NZ Football’s Women and Girls Month in March each year.

Taupo AFC player/coaches Nicola Drake and Sally Le Fleming organised the tournament, with aiming to bring together women’s teams from across the region for pre-season fitness, game time, and team bonding.

They see the tournament as part of the strategy to build the women’s football network in the region.

Teams from Cambridge, Taupō, Lakes FC (Rotorua), Waikato Unicol (Hamilton), Tauranga City and Otumoetai (Tauranga) played 5 x 50-minute games over two days.

The tournament is named after Janine Giddy, who has been a significant supporter of women in football in Taupō for the last 30 years. She played more than 300 games for the club, coached many teams and held other volunteer roles. She has also coached at local secondary school, Tauhara College.

Main photograph: Cambridge players (red and white shirts) getting their seasons underway. Photo credit: Rachel Lilburn.

Photo credits: Rachel Lilburn.

How the tournament started

The tournament was one of the projects to come out of the WaiBOP Women in Leadership course, held in Hamilton in October 2023 and January 2024.

The course, held in person over two weekends, plus additional zoom sessions, brought together women involved in football from across the Waikato and Bay of Plenty. Participants were all required to work on and deliver a football project in the region.

Main photo: Attendees from the Regional Women in Leadership group are re-united in Taupō. From left: Alida Shanks (WaiBOP), Kerry Sykes (Otūmoetai FC), Caylyn Frankson (Lakes FC), Nicola Drake (Taupo AFC), Misha Greenall (Tauranga City FC), Donna McCutcheon (Morrinsville FC), Rochelle Weller (FC Tauranga Moana), Sally Le Fleming (Taupo AFC), Natalie Broadhead (WaiBOP Football), Veronica Lenihan (WaiBOP Football). Photo credit: WaiBOP Football.

Other projects from participants to come from the course include:

  • Organising the first-ever women-only pre-season muster;
  • Information session/workshops on women’s sporting bodies, including physical health, menstruation, and mental well-being;
  • Coaching sessions, including a girls-only goalkeeping session and a parents’ session;
  • Creating a contact list/Facebook chat group for those involved in women’s football in the region to connect and collaborate.

Nicola Drake and Sally Le Fleming hope to encourage more teams from around the region to enter the Taupo tournament next year, and see the potential to include girl’s youth teams, continuing to build connection and unity across the region.

More information

If you have any feedback or questions, or would like to register your interest for next year, please contact Nicola Drake at [email protected].

Rachel Lilburn

Taupō-based Rachel Lilburn is the mother of a football-mad youngster, a team manager and volunteer. She writes for Friends of Football, specialising in feature stories about young footballers, their pathways and junior/youth tournaments.

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