Wednesday 16 August 2023, 01:00

FIFA Women’s World Cup creates next generation of Kiwi big events experts

  • Around 60% of the workforce for the FIFA Women’s World Cup 2023™ working in in Aotearoa New Zealand were locals.

  • All are now part of FIFA’s Global Talent Community, to potentially work at future events

  • Transferrable skills learned will also be applicable to other sporting events and codes in the country

FIFA Women’s World Cup Australia & New Zealand 2023 has provided a massive boost for a whole new generation of young New Zealanders working inside one of the biggest sports events in the world. Thousands of people move around, often in packs, as part of the global industry that helps to bring FIFA competitions and other major sporting events to life. The staff involved in these events often get their first taste when their own country hosts a major event, so the FIFA Women’s World Cup 2023™, along with the Women’s Rugby World Cup and Women’s Cricket Cup held in Aotearoa New Zealand last year, have provided a wonderful opportunity for hundreds of Kiwis to learn unique new skills and take their first steps in the events industry.

The Auckland Sky Tower pictured during the FIFA Women's World Cup.

“It has been an amazing opportunity for so many New Zealanders to work on one of the biggest events in the world and alongside some of the most experienced people in the business,” says Lisa Pennington, FIFA Director Services. Pennington explains that around 60% of the workforce recruited for the matches in Aotearoa New Zealand were locals. “For this tournament we had the unique challenge that the New Zealand borders were closed until October last year due to the pandemic, so we had to hire a lot more local staff in the early days of our preparation,” explains Pennington, who adds that FIFA wants to leave a legacy of experienced events staffers who can support the local football authorities with tournaments, but also other sporting codes. “The skills they learn are all very transferable and we are actively working with other major events and other sporting federations to match our FIFA Women’s World Cup staff with open roles at future events through our Outplacement Programme,” says Pennington, who adds that the staff in Aotearoa New Zealand are now all part of their Global Talent Community, which FIFA uses to recruit for future tournaments.

FIFA Women's World Cup 2023 Transport Coordinator, Ravina Ramesh

One of the youngsters already looking at the next big event is Ravina Ramesh, who moved to Auckland/Tāmaki Makaurau from Christchurch in the South Island to take on a role as transport coordinator for FIFA Women’s World Cup. “My sister worked on the FIFA World Cup in Qatar and she told me that this was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, so I applied for this role in transport,” says Ramesh. “This is completely new to me. We received a few weeks training from people who have done this work in the past, mainly on the TMM booking software and before I started I did a bit more self-study” says Ramesh who has already got her eyes on several other future events, like the climate summit COP28 in Dubai. and the FIFA World Cup in 2026 in Canada, Mexico, and the United States of America. “The skills that I have learned here are really transferable because every major FIFA tournament and other events use this software,” says the 25-year-old, who also hopes that she can use her design expertise at future FIFA events.

FIFA Women's World Cup 2023 Venue Media Coordinator, Fletcher Cavanagh

Another young Kiwi going places, literally, is Fletcher Cavanagh, who worked as the Venue Media Coordinator at Eden Park in Auckland/Tāmaki Makaurau. The 21-year-old had previously gained some experience in event management with New Zealand Cricket and as media assistant for international rugby events, while studying Sports Management at Otago University in Dunedin/Ōtepoti, so first applied for roles at Dunedin Stadium. “But with my media experience they suggested I should come to Eden Park and work in the media centre here which has been amazing.” The youngster from Wanaka in the deep South said even with those previous experiences, he has been blown away by the level of detail and the amount of preparation that goes into a FIFA Women’s World Cup.

A media centre at the FIFA Women's World Cup Australia & New Zealand 2023

“It has been a steep learning curve. I started 20 days before the first game, so we could set up the stadium exactly the way we wanted to provide the best possible service to the big media contingent we were expecting.” The 217 New Zealanders staff members found themselves surrounded by a staggering 70 other nationalities at the FIFA Women’s World Cup. Aside from the 319 Australians working on the tournament, the largest groups came from the UK, Brazil and India, all countries that hosted Olympics, World Cups or Commonwealth Games in recent years.

An aerial view of Eden Park by night

Cavanagh is grateful to his experienced colleagues from different continents at the Eden Park Media Centre for sharing their expertise. In return he taught his team some good Kiwi slang. “I’m a really proud Kiwi, so I took a lot of joy in showing them around and making everyone feel welcome,” says Cavanagh who has already lined up his next few gigs in rugby and cricket for the coming months. “And after that? I’m a football man, so these FIFA events are the Holy Grail for me and it will be pretty cool to do more FIFA events in the future.”