On International Women’s Day, New Zealand Football is pleased to announce the Women’s Knockout Cup will be renamed as the New Zealand Football Foundation Kate Sheppard Cup from 2018.
The Women’s Knockout Cup, which is the women’s national club-based knockout competition that was first played in 1994, is an important player pathway which links the two strategic goals of New Zealand Football of more Kiwis loving and playing football and our elite teams winning on the world stage.
At a formal function at Parliament, Sport and Recreation Minister Grant Robertson was in attendance alongside New Zealand Football President Deryck Shaw and other dignitaries to make the announcement.
Appropriately, the Kate Sheppard Cup announcement comes on the 125th anniversary of New Zealand becoming the first self-governing country in the world in which all women had the right to vote in parliamentary elections in 1893.
New Zealand Football Chief Executive Andy Martin said Kate Sheppard is well-known for being a pioneer for women in New Zealand history and it is fitting, and a great privilege, to have the trophy named in her honour.
“The name Kate Sheppard is recognised around New Zealand and it is great to have her name associated with this competition,” said Martin.
“The tagline for the competition in 2018 is ‘Make a name for yourself’, in recognition of what Kate Sheppard achieved in her life, and also what we want the players in this competition to aspire to.
“The ISPS Handa Chatham Cup has an incredible history – dating back to the voyage of the HMS Chatham here in 1922 – so it is nice to build history for the women’s competition. We look forward to seeing the competition unfold and the finals day for both competitions in September, which is one of the best days on the football calendar.”
The New Zealand Football Foundation are thrilled to become the first sponsor of the newly-named competition.
“Our leading objective is to support the development of the women’s game, and this is an exciting opportunity for the Foundation,” said New Zealand Football Foundation Chief Executive Noel Barkley.
New Zealand Football Foundation Chairwoman Jodi Tong said aligning with the Kate Sheppard Cup was a no-brainer for the Foundation.
“Kate Sheppard – the woman responsible for giving New Zealand women the vote – epitomises leadership, strength in belief and making things happen, and so when the opportunity came up for the Foundation to support the women’s game through sponsoring this prestigious cup, we didn’t hesitate,” she said.
Sheppard is a good fit for a competition for young women with huge ambition. She was the most prominent member of the women’s suffrage movement in New Zealand.
She was the editor of the White Ribbon, the first female-operated newspaper in New Zealand. Through her skilful writing and persuasive public speaking, she successfully advocated for women’s suffrage. As a result, New Zealand became the first country to establish universal suffrage.
Sheppard was the first president of the National Council of Women of New Zealand, founded in 1896, and helped reform the organisation in 1918. In later life, she travelled to Britain and assisted the suffrage movement there. She died in 1934.
In 1991, Sheppard’s likeness replaced that of Queen Elizabeth II on the front of the New Zealand ten-dollar note as one of New Zealand’s most prominent figures.
The Kate Sheppard Cup starts with regional games and goes national at the quarter-final stage. The final is played as a double-header with the ISPS Handa Chatham Cup Final, as part of the traditional end of the New Zealand football season in September.
The very first game back in 1994 saw Halswell United defeat New Brighton 2–0. The first final took place at Christchurch’s English Park and saw local team Nomads United emerge as the first winners of the competition, beating Waikato Unicol on penalties 4–3 after a scoreless final.
Glenfield Rovers are the current Kate Sheppard Cup holders after they defeated Eastern Suburbs 5-4 in a thrilling final last September at QBE Stadium in Auckland.
Lynn-Avon United (nine titles) are the most successful club in the history of the Kate Sheppard Cup.
The first round of the Kate Sheppard Cup will be staged on the weekend of May 12-13.