Jo Holter … one of the driving forces behind the new Wairarapa women’s football league. PHOTO/SUPPLIED
A Wairarapa women’s football league will kick off on Saturday with four teams to take the field in Greytown.
Greytown and Wairarapa United have each entered a team, while Carterton have fronted with two teams.
Capital Football’s assistant development manager Maia Vink said each game would be played over 70 minutes, with nine-a-side teams on Saturdays at one venue.
“We’re matching it up with our junior festival days, so the kids play in the morning, and the women play at 12.45pm, followed by the men, so it will be cool to have it all in one day,” she said.
Vink said although the league would start with just four teams, she hoped that college teams such as Wairarapa College and St Matthew’s Collegiate, and possibly other clubs would join through the season.
She said that a friendly game between Greytown and Kuranui College last weekend drew a crowd of about 100 people, which showed there was good potential to grow the women’s game.
Vink credited Jo Holter from Greytown and Teresa Shailer from Carterton for doing an amazing job promoting the league and attracting players.
Holter, who will turn out for the Greytown Gems, was inspired after coaching her five-year-old son’s team and watching her husband play for Greytown Spartans.
“They would have been happy to have me play, but I saw an opportunity to really grow women’s participation in the sport, both in the Greytown club and local Wairarapa region, and get a women’s side going,” she said.
“I quickly realised that women, especially those who have not played much before, only want to play against other women, so my crusade to get the women’s league going in the Wairarapa has been part of this journey.
“Many of us are finding sports such as netball a bit hard on the body as we get a bit older, and this gives women another option as a great winter sport while also being great for building local community connections.”
Holton said with the 2023 Women’s World Cup being co-hosted by New Zealand and Australia, now was a great opportunity to promote the game to females.
While the league was a good start, Holter said football authorities could still do more in the region.
“Where I think we could improve is at the senior club level where the women’s game should be encouraged more, and some broadening of thinking is required around things such as game format to encourage participation.
“Football is a great team sport, and women’s football has the ability to strengthen and futureproof our local Wairarapa clubs.
“I would love to see all clubs involved,” she said.
Greytown play Carterton, and Wairarapa United take on the other Carterton side in Saturday’s opening round.