After seven different competitions, 22 competitive games, and15 friendlies — all played overseas — the Ford Football Ferns are finally coming home!
When they kick off at 2.30pm on Saturday November 12, it will be 4 years and 154 days since their last outing on home turf, when they played against Japan at the then-called Westpac Stadium.
It’s been so long that even the stadium has changed name to Sky Stadium!
The COVID-19 pandemic didn’t help, with New Zealand borders closed and football brought to a standstill, the Ferns were forced to prepare for upcoming major tournaments with friendlies on foreign soil.
Before the World Cup finals in France in June 2019, the Ferns travelled to Marbella in Spain to take on Norway, before heading to St. Louis,Missouri, to take on the United States. Then, they headed to the United Kingdom to play their last two friendlies against England and Wales, before going to the World Cup.
Less than a year later, they faced the challenge of competing at the Tokyo Olympic Games. Due to the pandemic, the Ferns hadn’t been able to play together and prepare, and one year and 133 days later, they were playing their first competitive game against Australia in the first group game at one of the biggest sporting events in the world.
After jetting around the world for the last four years, doing everything they could to remain a cohesive unit, 37 games played, 12 wins, five draws, and 23 losses later, they are finally coming back to play on home soil.
When they walk out onto the pitch in front of a packed-out crowd (who, for a change will be supporting their home team) at Orangetheory Stadium in Christchurch in November, they will no doubt have the comforting feeling that they have arrived ‘home’.
After such a disruptive last 4+ years, this surely will be a game to provide life-long memories for players and football fans alike.
Entry fee for an adult is only $10, and for children is $5.
Get down to the stadium to support our team, and more importantly – WELCOME HOME, FOOTBALL FERNS!
Story: Jonathan Ross
Image Credits: New Zealand Football