Thursday 13 April 2023, 14:00

Unity Pitch lights up Kiwi capital

  • Wellington / Te Whanganui-a-Tara was the latest stop for the Unity Pitch

  • Huge variety of events on offer over four days in the New Zealand capital

  • The city will host a number of key match-ups including a repeat of the France 2019 Final

Wellington / Te Whanganui-a-Tara has enjoyed a taste of the FIFA Women’s World Cup Australia & New Zealand 2023™ this week, and the indications are that locals and visitors alike are in for some delicious treats when the football extravaganza rolls into town during July and August. Tuesday witnessed the tournament’s Unity Pitch arrive for a four-day stint in the heart of the city. The opening coincided with the 100 Days To Go celebration, tickets for Australia and New Zealand 2023 going back on sale, and the unveiling of the tournament’s innovative Unity Beat. The eye-catching Unity Pitch looked impressive under the cover of a sails-shaped roof on Queen’s Wharf. The programme could barely have been more diverse and included a Keepie Uppie challenge, Special Olympics, blind participants, and a past v present match to name just a few of the activities. There were, of course, plenty of opportunities for locals to test their skills and enjoy a kick-about.

The Unity Pitch represents a patchwork of the tournament brand colours, and reflects the two unique local cultures of Australia and Aotearoa New Zealand and the coming together of 32 participating nations. On tour of all nine Host Cities on either side of the Tasman Sea, next month’s stop in Sydney - venue for the Australia & New Zealand 2023 Final - will complete the Unity Pitch’s road show. A left-field presence at the Unity Pitch in Wellington / Te Whanganui-a-Tara was the NZ Campus of Innovation and Sport’s (NZCIS) Cryo Chamber - the only one of its kind in the country. The NZCIS will be a Team Base Camp for Sweden during the tournament.

A custom-built facility resembling a small shipping container, the Cryo Chamber is used to aid athletes’ recovery from muscle injuries and soreness, and is set to be used during Australia & New Zealand 2023. It was even set at -100 C to mark 100 days till the tournament commences. The first 100 hardy souls brave enough to face the cold received a prize.

Wellington / Te Whanganui-a-Tara is shaping as a key venue during the tournament. Arguably, none of the nine Host Cities can outshine the Aotearoa New Zealand capital for its range of must-watch group matches. Headlining is the France 2019 Final rematch between USA and the Netherlands. To mark the special encounter, the Unity Pitch hosted teams representing the two nations with representatives of the respective Embassies present. Similarly big name contests follow in July with Sweden-Italy and Japan-Spain on offer. Locals will also have the chance to cheer on the co-hosts in their crucial Group A match against Philippines. USA captain Becky Sauerbrunn cherished the experience of visiting Aotearoa New Zealand and Wellington / Te Whanganui-a-Tara in January, saying: “We met many wonderful people, learnt about the diverse culture of the country and truly enjoyed playing at the venues that will host our World Cup group matches.”

Unity Pitch, Wellington /Te Whanganui-a-Tara