Waterside Karori first holders of new shield to remember pioneer Nora Watkins

Wellington’s Waterside Karori are the first holders of a memorial shield to honour pioneering women’s player and coach Nora Watkins who died in 2023.

The Nora Watkins Memorial Shield will be contested by teams in the Women’s Central League, with the holders defending it from challengers when they play home games.

Nora Watkins.

As the 2023 Central League champions, Waterside Karori are the inaugural holders, and they successfully defended it in the first challenge, beating Victoria University 1-0 on Wednesday May 29, 2024.

Announcing the introduction of the shield, Capital Football said: “This Memorial Shield symbolises the pinnacle of achievement in women’s football, echoing the legacy of its namesake, Nora Watkins (nee Hetherington).

“Nora Watkins, a pioneer in New Zealand football, left a significant mark on the sport.

“From her remarkable tenure as a Football Ferns player to her groundbreaking role as the team’s first female coach, her contributions have shaped the landscape of women’s football.

“As a player and coach, she exemplified dedication, skill, and leadership.

“Over the years Nora represented the Wellington region with seven national titles and seven goals to her name. Nora played and coached at several local football clubs, including Petone FC, Upper Hutt FC and Miramar Rangers FC.”

The shield would honour a trailblazer in women’s football and provide a platform for female athletes to showcase their talents and inspire future generations, Capital Football said.

Main photo: The Memorial Shield that will be competed for in the Women’s Central League. Photo credit: Capital Football.

The federation thanked supporters of the initiative, including Miramar Rangers for donating the shield and the Watkins family for endorsing it.

The first New Zealand women’s team, winners of the Asian Cup in 1975. Back row: Dave Farrington (coach), Barbara Cox (captain), Mary Ann Poole, Kathy Simenoff, Nora Hetherington, Carol Waller, Elaine Lee, Marilyn Marshall (vice-captain), Nell Jongeneel, Sandra Twiname, Sue Jacobs. Front: Raewyn Hall, Nadene Elrick, Carol Knox, Debbie Chapman, Isobel Richardson, Pene Mack (team manager). Photo credit: DB Soccer Annual 1975.

Nora Watkins was a member of the first national women’s team, playing from 1975-1980, and was the side’s assistant coach from 1989 till 1994.

She became the first woman to coach the Football Ferns, taking charge for two games in 1995.

She died in Melbourne in June 2023, aged 65.

OBITUARY: Football loses pioneering women’s player and coach Nora Watkins >>>>

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