November 14, 2009, Wellington Stadium. The clock on the scoreboard had just ticked past 45 minutes. On an unusually still Wellington night, Leo Bertos bent a corner into the box – yes!! Only Bahrain to get past now... When Rory Fallon rose above a crowd of Bahrain defenders and headed the ball into the back of the net, the commentators declared it “the goal New Zealand has been waiting 27 years for.” The header, together with Mark Paston’s penalty save, secured the All Whites their ticket to the 2010 FIFA World Cup in South Africa, their first World Cup since 1987.
And it secured far more than that.
The 2010 All Whites team set the game in New Zealand alight. On the pitch, their success was scarcely believable. Though they narrowly missed a place in the Round of 16, the All Whites boarded their flight home from South Africa as the only team who would be able to say they were undefeated in the tournament. The All Whites came home with results to be proud of: three draws, including one against the reigning champions, Italy.
Off the pitch, the 2010 campaign became a turning point for football in Aotearoa. Player registrations sky-rocketed – including for girls’ football, as girls-only teams became the norm for the first time. New Zealand Football unveiled its Whole of Football plan, a new programme by which footballers would play and develop in New Zealand. The first generation of players to have come through the plan included the 2018Under 17 Football Ferns, who placed third at the World Cup.
The legacy of the 2010 All Whites is one that extends far beyond their achievements in South Africa. The team helped to create visibility for football, a game which we believe has benefits for al lin our communities, on and off the pitch.
When nations qualify for a World Cup, FIFA distributes funding to all qualified governing bodies, and a further amount is granted for a side’s participation in the group stages. In2010, the board of New Zealand Football invested a percentage of New Zealand’s allocation to create a legacy fund.
The vision was that this fund would support New Zealand football for years to come. The New Zealand Football Foundation was born.
Since its creation, the New Zealand Football Foundation has invested the initial $4 million of funding, growing it to $6 million, and since2010 has granted across the country $1.8 million in community grants – ensuring the legacy of the 2010 side develops and deepens as the years pass.
The 2010 team helped us begin our mission of using Football For Good, supporting and sustaining local initiatives which will benefit our players, coaches, parents, fans, facilities… our communities. On behalf of football in New Zealand we are so grateful to the2010 All Whites for their talent, tenacity, and belief.
The path they helped pave in South Africa is the same one the Foundation continues to forge, using Football For Good, for today, for tomorrow, and for the years to come.