Wood proud of Ferns’ deal
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.’’