Former Football Fern announced as NZ Football Foundation CEO

The New Zealand Football Foundation is pleased to announce Dr Michele Cox as its new Chief Executive.

Dr Cox is no stranger to football, arriving back into a code where she has had considerable success in in the past. Originally an Eden Football Club member (which was amalgamated to form Three Kings United), Cox went on to play as a midfielder for the New Zealand Football Ferns from 1987 to 1998 where she played 18 A Internationals and scored six goals. 

Since hanging up her boots, Dr Cox has worked almost 20 years in sport, ten of those years in overseas football organisations including with FIFA, UEFA and the Asian Football Development Project (AFDP) whose founder was former FIFA VP, Prince Ali bin Al Hussain of Jordan. Dr Cox regards one of her more memorable achievements of that period as being involved in a high profile international campaign to ensure women and girls were consistently able to wear headscarves whilst playing football.

In New Zealand, Dr Cox has worked for New Zealand Football (NZF). She was initially appointed as the first Head of Women’s Football for NZF and went on to lead the successful bid for the FIFA U-17 Women’s World Cup in 2008 which was hosted in New Zealand. She was also a member of the FIFA Women’s Football and FIFA Women’s World Cup Committee from 2005 to 2011.

Football runs in the Cox family, with Cox’s mother Barbara and sister Tara also playing for the NZ Football Ferns.  Barbara, a respected defender, played for New Zealand from 1975 – 1987 recording 30 caps, while Tara was a midfielder who played four internationals in 2000.

After undertaking a competitive recruitment process, Dr Cox becomes the second part-time CEO for the NZ Football Foundation (NZFF) since its inception. She follows on from former All White Noel Barkley.

NZFF is a charitable trust that was established in 2010 for the purpose of supporting the game of football in New Zealand. Since this time, the Foundation has actively supported the game and distributed grants of over $1.4 million – primarily focusing on the areas of women and girls, youth and hardship.

Dr Cox was delighted about the opportunity to be back in an area dear to her heart and head up the Foundation.

“It is fantastic to be back working in the football family at a time when the sport is forging ahead on all fronts. The Foundation has done a great job in building our capital base and I’m excited about the opportunities to continue this. What is really exciting is that there is so much potential for NZFF to build on the great work that has already been done, to widen not only the positive impact we have on football, but on New Zealand.”

NZFF Chair Jodi Tong was pleased with the appointment of Dr Cox as the CEO.

“We are very pleased to appoint Michele into this role,” said Mrs Tong.  “Not only does she have a superb understanding of the code, she brings extensive experience from having worked in the fundraising space for charitable purposes – and it’s not often that you get someone with spades of experience in both areas.

“The Foundation has audacious growth goals, the more we grow, the more impact we can contribute to football in New Zealand and we are confident that Michele can lead the Foundation through this next phase of growth.”

NZ Football CEO Andrew Pragnell said Dr Cox was an excellent appointment and is looking forward to continuing the collaborative partnership with the NZ Football Foundation.

“We are very pleased to see someone of Michele’s calibre and experience as the Chief Executive of the NZ Football Foundation,” said Mr Pragnell.

“Michele has incredible experience to draw on, both as a player and as an administrator at the highest level, and I am sure she will continue the good work of Noel and provide good leadership for the NZ Football Foundation moving forward.”

Dr Cox began the role on 20 May, 2019 and is looking forward to working with NZFF’s Board of Trustees and core stakeholders.

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