New Zealand Football has set the lofty goal of "winning at Fifa World Cups" - though admits it will need to double its high-performance investment to achieve it.

Before you choke on your cornflakes, we are not yet talking about New Zealand sides lifting trophies at Fifa events - though that may be feasible with the Football Ferns in the future - but more about progressing to the knockout stages and beyond, a huge achievement in the world's biggest sport.

Yesterday in Auckland the national body unveiled its new "Beyond Football" high performance plan, part of a strategy to overhaul the sport in this country. There have been plenty of such attempts over the past two decades or so but the latest plan looks to have solid foundations behind it. As well as the important background work detailed (improving pathways for players and coaches, a revamp of the domestic competition, more full-time coaches) one of the keys is a repositioning of the sport to attract investment.

"Rugby is our national game - no one is disputing that," says NZF chief executive Andy Martin. "But we want football to become 'our international game'. We can reach markets and have an impact that other sports just can't match. We need to change the perception of the sport."


Martin added that football is a key sport - in many cases the most popular - among all of our top 10 trading partners. It's a crucial fact. Rugby only has a curiosity value in Asia while others such as rowing and equestrian are limited to a niche interest.

"It's a good selling point for us," says Martin. "We also need to become a good bet; people tend to invest in good bets."

NZF spends around $3.7 million a year on its high-performance programme. Over the next few years they want to increase that to $7 million, to drive success at the 2016 Olympics and 2018 World Cup. The national teams, especially the All Whites, need more games but each one is an expensive exercise, well into six figures.

NZF will be seeking private and public investment and hope High Performance Sport NZ can be persuaded to adjust their funding criteria, which strictly focuses on podium finishes at World Championships and Olympics. Such a narrow view fails to encompass global sports like football, basketball and tennis.

"Football can move the dial, it can inspire New Zealanders," says Martin. "So many people have told me that the Bahrain match [in Wellington] was as big - or a bigger experience - for them than the [2011] Rugby World Cup win."