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.”