Wood proud of Ferns’ deal

Marlborough Express - - FRONT PAGE -

par­ity in May when they were awarded equal pay and con­di­tions as the All Whites – in­clud­ing busi­ness-class air travel.

They had the back­ing of New Zealand’s Pro­fes­sional Foot­ballers As­so­ci­a­tion, in­clud­ing Wood, a NZPFA board mem­ber.

For Wood, whose older sis­ter Chelsey was a New Zealand age­group foot­ball in­ter­na­tional, sup­port­ing the Ferns was a mat­ter of fair­ness.

‘‘Once my eyes were opened it was a no-brainer,’’ he said. ‘‘It wasn’t about hav­ing a girl­friend who plays foot­ball or a sis­ter who plays foot­ball, it was about do­ing what is right.

‘‘Th­ese peo­ple are pro­fes­sional ath­letes. They give up just as much time and ef­fort, if not more, than we do as men.

‘‘In New Zealand, if you want to be in the na­tional team you have to give up your life­style and move to Auck­land.

‘‘If you live in Christchurch or Welling­ton you have to move to Auck­land to train and play, and off your own bat. You weren’t sub­sidised, you weren’t given any­thing to start with, you just had to move.

‘‘The coaches and the head of New Zealand foot­ball are based in Auck­land. They want them to train to­gether as a team reg­u­larly to im­prove, and I am all for that, but they were not get­ting the help they needed to set up in new jobs or new hous­ing, or any­thing like that to help with the tran­si­tion.

‘‘They have given up their liveli­hoods to train three or four times a week and play at the week­end in Auck­land.

‘‘Once my eyes were opened to that I saw the way it should be and that it should change around.’’

Wood said his All Whites’ team-mates soon ral­lied be­hind the Ferns’ cause.

‘‘As soon as I opened their eyes to what the Foot­ball Ferns are go­ing through their re­ac­tion was the same as mine: what can we do to help?

‘‘It was a case of, ‘Look boys, we take what we are on and don’t push for any more, but we ask for the Ferns to be on ex­actly the same as us.’

‘‘It was a mas­sive step in his­tory, but it was the right thing to do. They should be on ex­actly the same as us. It’s the same life.’’

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