In the ever-expanding world of opportunity for female athletes, the Football Ferns are making their mark overseas.
Catherine Bott, who signed with German side USV Jena in 2017, says playing overseas is helping her develop her game.
“Getting better competition in Germany has really challenged me,” she said.
“It’s provided me with another stepping stone to be better for the Ferns.”
Bott is one of nine Ferns playing professionally in Europe but that opportunity may not have come about without help from the Football Foundation and the Professional Footballers Association.
“I guess in women’s football – everyone knows – you’re not in it for the money because there’s not a lot, Bott said.
“So the football foundation provided us with flights going over for the trial, which meant everything. Without that it probably wouldn’t have happened.”
The New Zealand Football Foundation and the Professional Footballers Association gave the Ferns $120,000 leading in to the Rio Olympics.
But since then, a further $80,000 has been added to the pot, helping even more Ferns land professional contracts in Europe.
One of those players is Meikayla Noore, who recently signed for German side Cologne alongside fellow fern Amber Hearn.
“In terms of the challenge, I needed to improve myself for the Football Ferns,” she said.
“It was an environment that I wanted to be in. It’s up there with my Football Fern debut.”
Midfielder Emma Rolston has also benefitted, overcoming injuries to be the fourth Fern playing in the German Bundesliga.
“Just to get the 3-4k to go over, it’s hard to do that when I’m just a student, or working and doing that kind of thing.
“So they’re a huge help, and it takes a huge weight off you to be able to do that.”
And without that financial pressure, it’s meant these players can just focus on the task at hand – football.