After the Silver Ferns' gloomy effort at the Commonwealth Games, some observers wondered whether young women around New Zealand would eventually eschew netball and instead opt for another code.

But this a week sparked a better idea: aspiring netballers — and for that matter any precocious female athletes across the country — should not just choose any other code. They should choose football.

The beautiful game should become the national game for women, superseding netball and fending off the ever-strengthening position of rugby.

Reasons for such an elevation are myriad and extend beyond the news announced this week by New Zealand Football.


The historic collective bargaining agreement providing parity between the Football Ferns and the All Whites is the latest and biggest step forward for the women's game in New Zealand, with the next coming next month when the national team play in Wellington for the first time in 27 years.

That team — ranked No20 in the world — will now be entitled to the same travel benefits as their male counterparts, the last step in a fight for equity that has already seen battles won in parity for pay, prize money and equal rights for image use.

It's a first for world football, putting New Zealand ahead of 200 other Fifa members. And NZF became the first organisation in this country to establish parity between their men's and women's teams.

The effects of the agreement are simple to understand and should not be understated.

Every international footballer will now receive the same benefits when pulling on the silver fern. Performances from an already impressive Football Ferns side will surely improve, considering the burden of long-haul flights in economy class has now been lifted.

And, most importantly, young women around New Zealand will know in football they are treated as equals.

The remuneration being offered by NZF can't compare to the $40,000-$45,000 the country's 30 top rugby players will earn this year, after the revenue-generating machine that is New Zealand Rugby forged their own historic agreement in March.

No footballer will live off the game alone in New Zealand — in a true sign of equality there are few men who can afford that luxury.


But football, as its proponents love to remind, is the global game. And our women's standing in that arena is only growing.

By playing in the last three World Cups and the last three Olympics, our footballers are regularly exposed to opportunities for career advancement.

College scholarships in the United States are handed out like candy, and while professional contracts are a different prospect, success stories such as Katie Rood at Juventus show they are attainable.

It's true, only elite women's players around the globe are going to strike it rich playing football. But the same, rather unfortunately, can still be said for every other sport.

Katrina Grant's Silver Ferns had a horror Commonwealth Games. Photo / Photosport
Katrina Grant's Silver Ferns had a horror Commonwealth Games. Photo / Photosport

Yet unlike other sports, unlike netball and rugby, the potential for tremendous growth in football seems both realistic and soon to be realised.

As an example, Manchester United, in a complete dereliction of duty, have yet to field a team in England's Women's Super League. That will finally change next season.

A competition that has existed only since 2010, its standing will incrementally enhance as more fans realise what those who head to the Cake Tin next month will undoubtedly also discern: women's football is entertaining as hell.

Girls around the country should step off the netball court and discover that on their own. But only if they want to pursue a free education in the United States, want to spend their 20s playing sport while living in northern Italy, and want to be treated as equal.

VAR warning

On the other hand, football may cease to exist as soon as next month.

I don't think it's hyperbole to suggest the entire sport could implode if what happened in last weekend's A-League final is repeated at the World Cup.

For those who missed all the madness, Kosta Barbarouses scored the only goal as his Melbourne Victory took the title from the Newcastle Jets.

Only problem, the All White was offside and, due to a software error, the Video Assistant Referee, which has lurched from one debacle to the next this A-League season, had no access to replays showing the goal should have been disallowed.

Imagine that happening at the World Cup. Imagine Argentina or Portugal or Mexico being knocked out due to software error. Their fans may take it a little harder than the Jets'.

Fifa's insistence of rushing through the technology for its showpiece tournament always appeared ill-advised. No wonder Johannes Holzmueller, head of Fifa's technology innovation department, said this week he was "sweating ... because we were unsure if everything works perfectly".

Football fans are incredibly unreasonable people. Remember, Andres Escobar was in 1994 murdered after scoring the own goal that eliminated Colombia from the World Cup.

Fifa's chief technology dude won't be the only one sweating when things go wrong in Russia.