Wendi Henderson, New Zealand Footballer, talks about her role as a Sport New Zealand Balance is Better Champion…
“When I was growing up, I had a ball at my feet every spare moment. From the age of four, I just loved playing football, although I played many other sports as well. I think they complemented my football overall."
“What’s different now though is the huge pressure on kids who show any sort of promise. At 14 or 15 years of age, in order to succeed it's strongly recommended they move to a more centralised programme; often away from their homes, parents and supportive environments and often even changing schools to put everything into their sport. I was 19 or 20 before I decided to specialise."
“It’s out of balance. These kids are going to potentially burn out or even worse walk away from sport altogether. I see this programme as an opportunity to bring my perspective as a player and a coach to help change the way we’re developing talent.”
Wendi Henderson played 64 games for the New Zealand Football Ferns between 1987 and 2008. She played in two FIFA world cups: in 1991 and 2007.
After retiring as a player, Wendi took up coaching, achieving a senior B coaching licence. Last season she was head coach of Upper Hutt City’s women’s W-League team.
Since 2006, Wendi has been Operations Manager, Parks, Sport & Recreation, for Wellington City Council.