Natalie, who undertook roles as the Future Ferns Domestic Programme, Assistant Manager and Phoenix Assistant Coach during her fixed term residency, says the internship happened at a great time for her.
“I was able to get into a fulltime programme with the Future Ferns and Under 20s, along with mentorship, which soon led to being part of the Wellington Phoenix,” she says. “HPSNZ’s funding allowed the role to be established and I can’t overstate the value of ‘being in the building’, being on site within NZ Football fulltime.”
As part of the Residency Programme, participants must undertake professional development as well as the hands-on internship experience.
Natalie chose to complete a Master’s degree in Advanced Performance Football Coaching with the University of South Wales as part of her professional development.
“The Masters programme is aligned with becoming an international or youth coach and was able to be customised to fit with the needs of NZ Football and Wellington Phoenix.
“My thesis was on why New Zealand female football players choose to quit international football, not through retirement or injury.”
By presenting her thesis to NZ Football, Natalie hopes she will help youth and female players succeed and stay in the sport.
Natalie also used some of her funds to participate in the Te Hāpaitanga programme for female high performance coaches which she says was a real privilege and helped her make excellent connections with other sports.
Looking back Natalie says it has been a big two years full of learning and she has nothing but praise for the programme.
“The funds help normalise women in leadership positions in sport and reinforces that it is a very real career option.”