NZ Women’s Squad – 1995-98. Part 1.

I received an approach through NZFA to find out if I was interested in the position as Coach to the NZ National Women’s team.   This was in a ‘part-time’ capacity and would combine with my other ‘part time’ role as Coach of LynnAvon FC Senior Women’s Squad.   The only way that I could do justice to the time involvement that these two positions entailed was that I had begun a Human Science degree at Auckland University.   As a fulltime student I had the flexibility to devote to both tasks, even though my studies were to suffer.

My position of ‘Part-Time National Coach’ often perplexed other National Associations particularly in Europe, USA, Asia and Australia where their National Coaches were ‘Full-Time’ often with fulltime assistants.   I usually just shrugged my shoulders and said “It’s the Kiwi way”.   Thankfully NZ Football has, for many years, recognised that to compete in World Football; not only players but Coaches need to be fulltime professionals.   

My first task in 1995 was to attend the National Women’s Tournament in Petone and to select a squad to play a two match test against Korea in their Republic.   Secondly I was to take a U20 squad to the Institute of Sport in Australia to participate in training and also several matches.  My third assignment was to Conduct a 28 squad training camp in Auckland in January 96.

Assessing the talent.

I felt that I had thrown myself in at the deep end and realized that I would make mistakes, however, with twenty five years of Coaching experience at top level in the men’s game, I was confident I would get thing right in the longer term.   I had three years before the World Cup Qualifiers, so the opportunity was there to assess in depth the quality of the players available.  

Republic of Korea.  September 1995.

The squad assembled in Auckland and with only one training session we departed for South Korea.   The two games were to be played in Gangeung some distance from Soul, so considering the length of the journey and the brief time to train together, the players acquitted themselves well to play out two scoreless draws.  We could certainly have sealed the second game where we hit the underside of the crossbar and had a penalty saved.  However, the tour gave me a valuable insight as to the quality of the players.

Squad;  Rebecca Rolls, Yvonne Vale, Adrienne Bain, Sue Gregory, Abby Allen, Sacha Haskell, Kim Dermott, Wendi Henderson, Tania Reid, Andrea Rogers, Rachel Oliver, Cinnamon Cheney, Amanda Crawford, Melissa Wileman, Maureen Jacobson, Terry McCahill, Tina Stephenson, Jill Corner.   Lesley Boomer and Margaret Curly off the field staff.

Australian Institute of Sport. December 95.

My next assignment was to take a NZ Under 20s Squad for a week’s Coaching Clinic at the Australian Institute of Sport in Canberra.  This was to be funded by the Hillary Commission.  We were to be joined by three Australian Under 20 Squads also a Squad from South Korea thus allowing us to play a five-team tournament.

The facilities at the Institute were excellent and with daily training sessions interspersed with games, against international opponents, this was an excellent opportunity to assess the talents of our younger players.

We defeated one of the Australian teams and disposed of Korea, however, we were beaten in close games by the other two Aussie teams. In one of the games against Australia striker Abby Allen sustained a serious injury which cost us dearly, not only in this tournament, but future games for the NZ National senior teams.   Abby was a natural talent with pace and goal scoring ability. 

Abby Allen.

The game against Korea, which was won convincingly, prompting the Korean Coaching staff to respond in a bizarre fashion. Directly after the game they punished their players by making them run countless time around the complex!

It was whilst we were at the Institute that an arrangement was made between the Aussies, Koreans and NZ to hold a ‘Tri – Series’ tournament in NZ the following March, between our full National Women’s teams.   This suited me because I had already arranged a full training camp in Auckland in January 98 and I could therefore select a squad from this camp.

January 96 Training Camp. Auckland.

This was held at the Avondale College Grounds.  Lynn-Avon FC (where I was senior Women’s Coach), kindly sponsored accommodation for players from outside Auckland at a ‘five-star hotel’.  A week of full-time training gave me an excellent opportunity to assess the quality of the players thus enabling me to select a squad for the upcoming three country tournament.    

Several senior players had pulled out of the January camp prior to me arranging the Tri-Series tournament; they now informed me that they wanted to be selected!   I received a fair amount of flak from the press and other uninformed sources because of leaving these players out.  However, they had indicated that they wanted a break from football, so naturally I was only interested in the players who committed themselves to the January camp.   I knew that I had plenty of time before the WC qualifiers in 1998 so I had the opportunity to cast the net as widely as possible.

M-Wey Tri-Series Auckland March 1996.  Rep of Korea – Austalia – NZ.

Squad:  Rebecca Rolls, Yvonne Vale, Kelly Mawson, Danielle Taylor, Marlies Oostdam, Zania Cogle, Andrea Rogers, Tania Reid, Rachel Oliver, Sue Gregory, Melissa Ruscoe, Terry McCarhill, Melissa Wileman, Maureen Jacobson, Amanda Crawford, Joy Howland,  

Staff Lesley Boomer, Eric Pritchard, Mick Weymouth, Anne Smith, MT.   

Our matches resulted in a win and a draw against Korea and two defeats against Australia.   A lack of goals was a major problem for the team with Danielle Taylor scoring our only goal with the winner against Korea.

This tournament was the last time that Maureen Jacobson represented the NZ Women’s National team.   Maureen had been on the National scene for many years and even though I was aware of her I had not seen her play.   She was the perfect midfielder: box to box, all-round passing ability off both feet, strong in the tackle, good in the air, could read the game well and inspired the players around her.   Obviously, Maureen was a loss to my long term planning but things never stay static in football, so it was a case of carrying on with the players available.         

Maureen Jacobson.

Papua New Guinea 1996.

We were asked to host a one-off game against PNG which turned out to be a pretty much non-event in terms of progress.  PNG were in NZ au-route to another venue.   We agreed to host them, reasoning that any game was experience for the team.   It turned out to be a low key affair which we were not prepared for and we struggled to draw with them.   I came in for a fair amount of criticism because of the result, but my thick skin allowed it to run off me like ‘water off a duck’s back’.

Squad:  Rebbecca Rolls, Yvonne Vale, Maia Jackman, Sue Gregory, Mellissa Ruscoe, Jill Corner, Wendi Henderson, Beth Clark, Amanda Crawford, Rachel Oliver, Kim Dermott, Terry McCahill, Tania Neill, Robyn Davies-Patrick, Danielle Taylor.


By this time I felt that my strategies were starting to come together and that I was beginning to develop a strong squad.   Wendi Henderson, a technically gifted lefty; Michelle McCahill, also technically good, had significantly increased her fitness and both had returned to the fold.  My problem was that I had lost Maureen Jacobson and Keeper Rebecca Rolls, who had decided to concentrate on her Cricketing career.   Non the less there were some good youngsters coming in which included Cantabrians Zarnia Cogle and Rachel Oliver, also Maia Jackman who was to prove her value to NZ teams over many years.  I was particularly hard on Maia even though she played in my club team, I sometimes frustrated her with my decisions surrounding her but she always came back stronger than ever.  She followed my tenure with an illustrious career with the ‘Football Ferns’.

Maia Jackman

1997 – Tri Nations – China – Australia – NZ.

We lost to China and Australia but only by narrow margins.  The Chinese were very tough opponents at the time and were high on the World rankings.  The Aussies were always difficult opposition and they paid us the compliment of spying on our training sessions but we gave a good account against them.

The always reliable Terry McCahill had taken over as team Captain and could influence things from the heart of the defence; Sacha Haskell, who possessed obvious leadership skills took on as Vice-Captain.

Terry McCahill.

Squad: Jennifer Carlisle, Maia Jackman, Melissa Ruscoe, Wendi Henderson, Sacha Haskell, Michelle McCahill, Jane Simpson, Melissa Wileman, Kelly Jarden, Jill Corner, Zarnia Cogle, Rebecca Howard, Terry McCahill, Rachel Oliver, Yvonne Vale, Amanda Crawford.

Australia 2 v NZ 0.   NZ 1 v China 3.