The New Zealand Football Foundation believes in the power of Football For Good, and funds projects and initiatives that support local communities. The Foundation has also created its own initiatives, working with partner organisations to ensure the benefits of football are accessible to every group in Aotearoa.
Our impact extends far beyond the pitch: the projects we lead ourselves, and those that we support financially, generate access not only to the game itself, but to the wide range of opportunities outside football.
The New Zealand Football Foundation issues grants once per year to initiatives which serve one of our four key pillars:
Women and Girls, Youth, Social Impact and Innovation.
The Foundation is committed to finding, funding, and supporting local communities who believe in the power of sport to change lives for the better every bit as much as we do.
The charitable purpose of these programmes and grants is guided by a Trust Deed (2010) which highlights the following areas:
Underpinning all of these are alleviating hardship in game and increasing access to football, particularly for disadvantaged groups.
NZFF works with a number of community organisations to undertake programmes to benefit all aspects of the community. We are currently working on some exciting new projects too, so watch this space!
Over the last year, the New Zealand Football Foundation has worked with YouthTown New Zealand to create the Football Connect Initiative. In 2022, Football Connect has strengthened and expanded. The Foundation and Youth Town will now be able to offer our support to a larger number of kiwi kids who will be able to experience the benefits of football and team sports.
Football Connect is all about access. At the Football Foundation we believe that sport, and its health and social benefits, should be available to all young people regardless of who they are or where they live. But this is an ideal that has not been reached in Aotearoa for a long time. Before a young person takes to the pitch at the weekend, there are club fees that need to be paid, boots and equipment to be purchased, transport to be organised, and time on a Saturday to be found. For many families, these barriers result in sport becoming a luxury.
These hurdles have only increased in recent times. After three years of pandemic disruption, youth participation in sport is declining as the cost of living sharply increases. We know that for many families, the costs of sport are no longer able to be borne. We want to do everything we can to help.
From the very beginning, Football Connect has worked to remove barriers. Fees are paid where possible, equipment and coaching are provided, and life skill sessions accompany football training to help support young people and their families. The school holiday programmes provide an opportunity for kids to meet and socialise with peers beyond their immediate surroundings and get a taste for football before they can play at the weekends.
The impact of the programme has been visible and inspiring from the outset. This year, as access to sport becomes more difficult for many, Football Connect is expanding.
In 2022, Football Connect will have financial support from the New Zealand Police fund, as part of an initiative to redistribute profits from organised crime to community programmes for social good. The Police want to support programmes which help create positive environments for young people, so that their support networks help carry them through to a successful life on whatever path they choose. We are grateful that the Police see and support the benefits of football to do real good in our communities, helping our rangitahi achieve their potential – whether on the pitch, or off.
It is a rite of passage for many young footballers: signing up to your very first team, excitedly trying on your very first pair of boots, and training on your own with a football. It is an exciting way to begin a footballing journey, a door into a game which will bring opportunity, fitness, and friendships.
New Zealand Football provides a pathway into football with its First Kicks programme. The Football Foundation saw an opportunity to mark the occasion of a player’s first football registration with their very own football, to ensure that-all children who sign up to play the beautiful game have access to their first football, no matter their circumstance. The initiative was born “First Footballs for First Kicks”.
After a challenging two years, when football and life have been very disrupted for many, the Foundation is excited to be able to open the pathway into sport for many young people by removing the barriers of equipment. The Foundation is incredibly grateful for the considerable generosity of Dr Johanna Wood, President of New Zealand Football, which was critical in turning the First Footballs idea into reality. Dr Woods passion for and support of the grass roots game in Aotearoa New Zealand will have a legacy for young people throughout New Zealand. Her contribution has been invaluable to this project, which we hope will increase access and the love of the game for young people across the country.
The New Zealand Football Foundation have organised the production of Football Foundation footballs, which would be provided to the regional federations and distributed to families when children signed up for their first football team.
The footballs, in Football Foundation green, are a tool to provide increased access to football for all kiwi children. Recipient, Capital Football Federation, highlights the importance of being able to kick a ball around outside of training and games, for keeping players in the game. Steeve Sharp of Capital Football says, “Capital Football is grateful to the generosity of the Football Foundation in providing footballs for our first kicks players. The footballs will go directly to 5- and 6-year-olds experiencing the game for the first time throughout the region. There is no better incentive for young people to fall in love with the game than by having a ball at their feet whenever they wish to use it. We cannot wait to get the footballs out to the kids.”
Central Football said, “this is a fantastic initiative by the NZ Football Foundation which will see lots of smiles on kid’s faces as the junior season kicks off for 2022.”
“There is something special about seeing children receive their first piece of sporting kit. We hope that the raw joy and passion they feel when receiving their ball will mean we have a whole new generation of footballers staying and contributing to football within New Zealand. We thank Dr Johanna for her generosity and passion for allowing this initiative to go ahead and to further contribute to the growing talent pool of footballers throughout the country.”
Every team needs supporters. At the New Zealand Football Foundation we are so grateful for our partners who believe in Football For Good just as much as we do. They know the power of sport to make real change in society and they are committed to helping us do the māhi to support our communities. The generosity of our partners is crucial to enable us to support so many worthy projects.