Tagata Pasifika

The Pacific voice on
New Zealand television
since 1987

Tagata Pasifika

The Pacific voice on
New Zealand television
since 1987

FIFA Women’s World Cup honours indigenous cultures in spectacular opening ceremony

Public Interest Journalism funded through NZ On Air

Striker Hannah Wilkinson slotted in the first goal of the match.
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Neueli Mauafu | Reporter

The Football Ferns have kicked off their world cup campaign in style with a 1 – 0 win over Norway, topping off a successful opening to the Fifa Women’s Football World Cup. 

With the roar of the crowd and the spectacle of the fireworks and bright lights, the tournament officially got underway on Thursday night at Eden Park with a captivating opening ceremony honouring the indigenous people of Australia and New Zealand. 

The ceremony centred around the host nations coming together as one. The story of Maui, the demigod, was portrayed on the big screen acknowledging Aotearoa and its people, as a rainbow serpent acknowledged the story of how the land of Australia came to be.

Photo: Retrieved from ScreenBinge.com

As the anthems of Norway and New Zealand echoed through Eden Park, emotions ran high among the host nation’s players as the tears rolled down their faces in front of a packed out Eden Park – 42,000-plus eager football fans.

The first spell saw continuous pressure from each side with some unlucky misses from both teams. Norway showed their physicality through the middle, however the ferns were equally up to the task with their hearty defence. Both teams went into the half time break with no goals to show on the scoreboard.

The hosts strong defence was key to the victory, giving the 12th ranked Norway no room to breathe for the majority of the match.

The second half remained the same, with some brilliant skills shown by both teams. But after defending for most of the first half, the ferns found their groove and started finding shots on goal..

The 48th minute finally saw the deadlock lifted as striker Hannah Wilkinson slotted in the first goal of the match after a brilliant cross from teammate Jacui Hand, to give the hosts the lead. The goal sent the 42,000+ fans in a frenzy, a record number for any football fixture in the country.

Ria Percival had the chance to extend New Zealand’s lead with a penalty but failed to find the net. However it was not needed as Wilkinsons goal was enough for the hosts to secure the win. 

Wilkinson made history for the Ferns 12 years ago when her last minute goal against Mexico secured the Ferns their first ever World Cup point, and now she’s the hero again by securing that historic first ever win.

It was a well deserved win for the ferns, who had only won one of their pre-world cup fixtures leading into the tournament. Coach Jitka Klimkova was in tears after the well deserved win for New Zealand. 

The Ferns head into their last two pool matches with a spring in their step. They will face the Philippines in Wellington next Tuesday followed by Switzerland in Dunedine the following Sunday. 

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