- SPONSORED -
A review of women’s football in the lower North Island has resulted in a number of structural changes to women’s club football in 2017.
Capital Football (CF) hired private company Peter Dale Management to conduct a review of women’s football across the lower North Island in 2016. Lisa Jones, CF’s Operations Manager, described the process as “a player focused review” that involved “players, coaches, and people who are actively involved in the game.”
She stated that “every club was contacted.”
CF used the recommendations of the review to initiate changes, including a commitment to disestablish the Women’s Central League (WCL) and replace it with a six-team Women’s Premier League (WPL), and to remove promotion/relegation for the Women’s premier league for at least two years.
A number of clubs and players have raised questions about the process, many of whom were not aware of, or involved in, the review.
North Wellington, Petone, Victoria University, Brooklyn Northern Union, Karori, Wests, and Kapiti Coast United teams sent a collective letter to CF, asking, “were there representatives of all clubs questioned / interviewed? […] What recommendations of the review that are to be adopted are not outlined in the November 4 letter?”
CF spokesperson Richard Reid responded, suggesting the clubs had “made many unsubstantiated ‘allegations’ as to the validity of the review and therefore its integrity.”
He stated: “I am sorry if that is how you view CF and the way it operates but you are entitled to your opinion […] we also ‘get it’ that all that is being proposed/enacted […] will cause some angst amongst some clubs who feel it is ‘unfair’, again this is the nature of these things.”
The content of new rules have also caused concern. Prior to the review, teams at the end of each season were able to either move up if they had won their current league, or move down if they had lost their current league.
A player from a Victoria University’s Women’s team, who wished to remain anonymous, spoke with Salient, saying, “it’s just unfair that we don’t get the opportunity to challenge ourselves and move up to a higher league.”
“What if we’re better than the worst team in this new league? They can’t be moved down, and we can’t be moved up. It doesn’t make any sense.”
In addition, players from outside Wellington who seek to play in the WPL would likely need to travel to the Wellington region to do so, as five of these teams — Wairarapa, Wellington United, Seatoun, Upper Hutt, and Stop Out — are from the greater Wellington region.
The anonymous Victoria University’s Women’s team player reflected that “these changes would never be suggested, let alone introduced, in men’s football.” The changes follow a number of instances of alleged sexism in the industry.
A player from the New Zealand national league, who chose to remain anonymous so as not to jeopardise her career, said to Salient, “players in the women’s national team are expected to train full time, but aren’t paid nearly enough.”
“They end up having to train full time, and work nights just to make ends meet. The women’s team perform far better on the world stage than the men’s team, so the funding should be placed there first.”
Hope Solo, who played for US women’s national soccer team until 2016, garnered media attention after coming forward to complain about a disparity in resource quality between women’s and men’s teams.
Solo posted a photo of worn grass at the Boca Raton stadium in Florida, writing “this is what the top two women’s teams in the world will play on tomorrow night. #EqualMeansEqual.”