Women and Girls Football


Women’s football in New Zealand is on the rise, with continued growth year on year.

However, nationally, participation numbers still lag behind other women’s sports and it is clear the female game requires a different approach in order to realise the true potential of the sport.

To continue to build on the growth in the female game NZ has experienced so far, we need to grow the depth in the women’s game through increasing the avenues for young girls to play football.

Our new approach will focus on reducing the barriers to involvement by offering girls-only junior football and provision during the summer months to attract new girls to the game.


The tailor-made pathway aims to provide a high-quality experience that meets the motivational and developmental needs of female players.

For the most talented girls who wish to remain in mixed football, the Junior Framework allows them to play football all year round and accumulate more football hours.

This will ultimately increase participation levels and allow each player to reach her true potential.


Women were banned from playing football for 50 years in NZ, with the ban only lifted in 1971 when women started playing football despite the ban. The ban continues to have an impact today. In the WaiBOP Football region, despite the number of females playing football and futsal increasing every year, they still only make up 26% of total players. The good news is that female football is on the rise. In the four years from 2019-2023, the number of women and girls playing football in the WaiBOP region increased 18%. To keep fostering this growth, the female game requires a targeted approach in order to support more women and girls to become involved.

Data shows that the biggest drop off in participation comes in the adolescent age. Recent NZ research shows the main barriers for kōhine are too much pressure, time restraints such as trying to balance study sport and social commitments, poor health from over training, financial strain, and gender inequity in support and recognition. The main motivators to increase participation focus on fun, the improvement of skills, fostering friendships, quality coaching experiences, and health benefits.