The Football Ferns are the opening act of the 2012 Olympics, playing hosts Great Britain in Cardiff two days before the opening ceremony but with a combined experience of 862 caps the team are unlikely to be overawed.
It’s the most experienced Ferns squad named for major tournament and includes ten players with 50 caps or more to their credit. Those players – Rebecca Smith, Jenny Bindon, Abby Erceg, Ria Percival, Hayley Moorwood, Katie Hoyle, Ali Riley, Amber Hearn, Kirsty Yallop and Anna Green – were all part of the 2008 Beijing squad as was defender Kristy Hill.
The balance of the squad comes from last year’s FIFA Women’s World Cup squad although there is still room for former White Ferns cricketer Rebecca Rolls, who claims the second goalkeeper spot, and 19-year-old former Australian age-group representative Rebekah Stott who has impressed since switching allegiance back to her country of birth earlier this year.
Striker Rosie White, the other teenager in the squad, has fought her way back from a stress fracture to make the cut and is one of eight squad members aged 24 or under.
New Zealand Olympic Committee secretary general and selector Kereyn Smith is proud to have named the outstanding Football Ferns today. “Our Olympic Games will kick off with the women’s football team taking on host nation Great Britain, she said.
“We couldn’t have hoped for a better start to the games and we know they’ll make us proud.” “We’ve been investing in a core group of players since 2006,” said New Zealand coach Tony Readings, “and now we’re much closer to the sort of experience that you need to do well at a pinnacle event.”
“In terms of age, most players are yet to reach their peak but London could be the event when we really start to cash in on all that investment in international experience.”
High Performance Sport New Zealand Chief Executive Alex Baumann was delighted to see the women’s team named. He said a commitment was made several years ago to invest in the Football Ferns to help them get to the Olympic Games.
“Over the past few years, about $1.1 million has gone to their high performance programme to help them prepare for London, and it’s very exciting to see the players selected today who will compete for New Zealand.’’
Women’s football entered the Olympic Games at Atlanta 1996, where eight teams competed. The women’s tournament has since expanded to include 12 teams. New Zealand made its women’s football debut at Beijing 2008 where they drew one game.
New Zealand has been grouped with Great Britain, Brazil and Cameroon in Group E of the 12 nation finals.
New Zealand women’s football team for London Olympics Club – caps/goals in brackets - AFF based players in bold
Goalkeepers 1-Jenny BINDON (Hibiscus Coast – 69/0) 18-Rebecca ROLLS (Fencibles United – 14/0)
Defenders 2-Ria PERCIVAL (USV Jena, GER – 70/2) 3-Anna GREEN (Lokomotive Leipzig, GER – 50/6) 5-Abby ERCEG (Fencibles United – 72/4) 6-Rebecca SMITH (Captain, VfL Wolfsburg, GER – 68/4) 7-Ali RILEY (Malmö, SWE – 61/1) 14-Kristy HILL (Eastern Suburbs – 19/0) 15-Rebekah STOTT (Melbourne Victory, AUS – 3/0)
Midfielders 4-Katie HOYLE (Bad Neuenahr, GER – 62/1) 8-Hayley MOORWOOD (Chelsea, ENG – 80/10) 11-Kirsty YALLOP (Vittsjö, SWE – 59/11) 12-Betsy HASSETT (UC Berkeley, USA – 38/4) 16-Annalie LONGO (Three Kings United – 42/0)
Forwards 9-Amber HEARN (USV Jena, GER – 59/30) 10-Sarah GREGORIUS (Bad Neuenahr, GER – 28/15) 13-Rosie WHITE (UCLA, USA – 35/9) 17-Hannah WILKINSON (Glenfield Rovers – 33/12)
Standby 19-Katie BOWEN (Glenfield Rovers – 8/0) 20-Sarah McLAUGHLIN (Claudelands Rovers – 11/0) 21-Holly PATTERSON (Claudelands Rovers – 4/0) 22-Erin NAYLER (Eastern Suburbs – 0/0)
Olympic Build-Up - Women
New Zealand v Canada
July 14, 4pm (2am July 15 NZT)
New Zealand v Colombia
Savièse, Switzerland July 17, 4pm (2am July 18)
New Zealand Olympic Schedule - Women
New Zealand v Great Britain
Millennium Stadium, Cardiff 4pm (3am, July 26 NZT)
New Zealand v Brazil
Millennium Stadium, Cardiff 2.30pm (1am, July 29 NZT)
New Zealand v Cameroon
City of Coventry Stadium, Coventry 7.45pm (6.45am, August 1 NZT)