Football Ferns assistant coach Aaron McFarland has resigned from his position with the national team to take up a role with Central United.
McFarland, who has been an employee at New Zealand Football for the past six years and a part of the Football Ferns coaching team for the past four years, has played a leading role in helping the team to their highest-ever ranking of No 16 in the world.
McFarland joined the Football Ferns in 2013 after they had qualified for the 2012 London Olympics and progressed to the quarterfinals. He was part of the coaching team that helped the Football Ferns qualify for the 2016 Rio Olympics where their progress was stalled by the World No 1 USA and World No 3 France in their group.
Football Ferns coach Tony Readings said McFarland is a popular member of their coaching team and he would be difficult to replace.
"Aaron has been a big member of our team and I know I speak on behalf of the team when I say we will miss his expertise as a coach and also his character within our environment," said Readings.
"We have spent many hours traveling to countries all around the world and training and playing and we have become a family so it is sad when someone moves on but we wish Aaron all the very best at Central United where I am sure he will have a very positive impact on the club."
McFarland said it was not an easy decision to move on from the Football Ferns after many years where he has helped build them to become a world-class unit.
"I have so many special memories from my time with this team and I am very proud of what we have been able to achieve in this environment," said McFarland.
"At the end of the day my decision is around balancing my coaching and family priorities. There is a significant amount of travel with the Football Ferns and while that has always been a great challenge and rewarding, personally I am looking forward to being locally-based and continuing to work with aspiring players.
"I wish Tony and the team all the very best for the next few years as they look to continue to build. I have no doubt they will be a force to be reckoned with at the FIFA World Cup in 2019 and also the Tokyo Olympics in 2020."
New Zealand Football Chief Executive Andy Martin added his thanks to McFarland for his commitment and what he has achieved in his time with the Football Ferns.
"Aaron has been a real asset for our team and you can see that in the way he and Tony and the rest of the staff have moulded this team to become truly world-class," said Martin. "There is no doubt that we will miss him and we wish him all the very best as he offers his great coaching experience on the world stage to Central United."
McFarland will finish at New Zealand Football on December 16.