2 Nov 2017

Time right to move on for departing Football Ferns coach

3:15 pm on 2 November 2017

The departing coach of the New Zealand women's football team says the all-consuming nature of the role played the biggest part in his sudden exit.

The New Zealand women's football coach Tony Readings.

The New Zealand women's football coach Tony Readings. Photo: PHOTOSPORT

Tony Readings will no longer be in charge of the Football Ferns after New Zealand Football confirmed his resignation on Thursday.

Readings took charge of the national side in 2011 and his exit will come as a shock to some given he extended his contract in October, 2015 through until 2019.

After being in the role for six years, the 42-year-old who took the Ferns to the 2012 and 2016 Olympics and the 2015 Women's World Cup felt the time was right to step aside after what he deemed a very beneficial September tour to the US for two games against the world's best women's team.

"It just felt right after that tour to say it's time for me to move on.

"I've been doing it for a while and it's a very all-consuming job and time for a new challenge. If you feel that as an individual then that's what is best for the team.

"It's always been a battle to compete with the best teams in the world. Typically what we've done is work harder and attempt to work smarter.

"After a while that takes its toll on you and for me it's like it's time to let someone else resume that challenge and I can focus on myself and my family.

"Hopefully someone can come in and do an even better job than what has been done in the past."

Despite the sudden nature of the announcement, Readings said there was nothing untoward in his departure and he "definitely" left on good terms with the national body.

He also said the shock retirement of long-time captain Abby Erceg in February and the decision of rising talent Jasmine Pereira to step away from football played no part.

In fact, while he felt the obstacles for the team were only going to get bigger as other nations got bigger budgets and stronger domestic leagues, Readings felt New Zealand was making some strides in closing the gap.

"With those players leaving, particularly Jasmine, it's tough being a player in New Zealand and trying to go and compete on the world stage.

"[But] we don't just want to make excuses, so because of those types of things we created the Football Ferns development programme, which I've spent a lot of time this year with Gareth Turnbull getting in place.

"That's already starting to bear fruit. While the organisation is not in a position to be funding amateur players to train at the moment, what we have done is committed to a fulltime training programme that can fast track players to becoming professional."

As he departed, Readings' major onward goal for the team was in that vein.

He felt NZ Football and the future coaching group's aim should be to have a fully professional squad at major tournaments - starting with the next World Cup in 2019 - something he said they were on track to do.

And although, after some time off, he was heading for a new and still to be determined challenge, Readings said he would be watching with interest if that transpired.

"When you spend this long with a team you don't just switch off from them, I'm always going to be a fan.

"I want the team to go on and do well, I want them to be successful. Then some of the work I've done and the staff have done in our time with the team would have played a big part in that."

The New Zealand team achieved their highest ever world ranking of 16th under the watch of Readings.

The Ferns also defeated some world class opposition, most notably Brazil in 2013 and 2015 (both away from home), and reached the quarterfinals of the 2012 London Olympics.

The team, though, failed to get past the group stage at the 2015 World Cup and the 2016 Olympics in Rio.

NZ Football technical director Andreas Heraf and New Zealand under-20 women's coach Turnbull will lead the tour to Thailand.

NZ Football did not specify when a a new appointment would be made.