Football Ferns Captain Abby Erceg Retires Due to Lack of Support From NZ Football

Abby Erceg is one of NZ's finest-ever women's footballers, but a lack of support from the national body has led her to retire.

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Feb 20 2017, 10:42pm

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Abby Erceg, the captain of the New Zealand women's team, is retiring from international football, as she is fed up with a lack of support from the sport's national body.

Though only 27, Erceg is arguably one of the finest women's football players New Zealand has ever produced. After making her international debut in 2006, she has notched up 130 caps for the Football Ferns - the most ever - and scored six goals in her international career.

A professional with North Carolina Courage in the US National Women's Soccer League, she took over the New Zealand captaincy in 2014 and led the nation at the Rio Olympics last year. She also skippered New Zealand at the 2015 FIFA Women's World Cup in Canada.

Speaking to Radio New Zealand this morning, Erceg said Kiwi female footballers - who are largely semi-pro - aren't valued strongly enough by New Zealand Football. Her frustrations with NZ Football have pushed her over the edge.

"I've shaped my life around this game and committed a lot to it and you get to a point in your career you can't justify the amount you're putting in for what you're getting back," she said.

"In terms of going out and just finding a job and hoping it's going to cover everything, it's hard to do with all the trainings that we have to commit to.

"You're telling these people that I need to work but you've got to commit all this time to this . . . I don't know if I'm going to be here on this day, I can't actually tell you if I'm going to be here next week, I might have to leave for a couple of weeks to go on tour but I'm not sure yet."

The retiring skipper said that New Zealand Football would often tell her that the resources weren't available to properly look after her and other members of the Football Ferns, despite the organization being in good financial health.

"The thing I've heard the most is we have no money and we can't afford it, and that's really hard to accept as a player when your organisation for the past eight years have been in a surplus and they've announced a profit for the last eight years," Erceg added.

"We just want an environment where we are able focus on this job that we call football and we're able to do it without having to worry about if we pay the bills, if I'm going to be able to eat next week, if I'm going to get to these pinnacle events and be in a position where I can actually perform."