All Whites v New Caledonia – March 2013

crowd salute the players as they leave the pitch header

crowd salute the players as they leave the pitch victorious

In 2010 New Zealand Football and the New Zealand Professional Footballers Association (NZPFA) partnered with White Ribbon – a campaign offering men the chance to be part of the solution to end violence against women – which became the All Whites official cause.

applying a tattoo

applying a tattoo

Since then, former All White and Sky Commentator Harry Ngata has become an ambassador, and in 2012 a White Ribbon Cup was introduced.

‘This partnership has been very exciting because it’s not driven from a commercial imperative’, says Chief Executive New Zealand Football Grant McKavanagh. ‘The idea came from the players themselves, who saw an opportunity for football to help tackle one of the most serious issues in our country.

‘One-in-three women will experience partner violence at some point in their lives1 and that’s a staggeringly high number. Within the All Whites team structure there are over 25 men in the unit, they all have mothers or partners, female friends, colleagues and many now have daughters. Statistically, that violence will have affected a number of our team – now expand that group and include football payers across the country, add in the families of those players and the number that may have been affected by violence in our community is so large it’s hard to comprehend.

‘We know too many people say ‘it doesn’t affect me’ and we as a team and organisation don’t believe that’s good enough. As men, we’re taking responsibility for raising this issue and working with the White Ribbon Campaign towards solutions,’ says Mr McKavanagh.

sky sports team post match

Harry Ngata at work

White Ribbon Ambassador Harry Ngata explains, ‘For me it’s about legacy – not just  my Dad’s work, but also about the sort of role models sportsmen can be, and the sort of influence they can have when they stand up for up for what is right.

‘You don’t have to experience violence to understand just how terrible the effects can be on women, and children. It’s easy to see the bruises and the broken bones, what people often don’t understand are the effects of non-physical violence.

‘Where once there was a bright a bubbly person, violence can rob that individual of their spark leaving them living in constant fear, suffering from anxiety or depression and this can then lead to alcohol, drug abuse or poor health.

‘If we can influence just one man and put them on a different path then I’ll be happy. We know our players can reach people so we want to utilise that opportunity and our partnership with White Ribbon. Men, including our All Whites and management, can be an example, wearing the white ribbon to show that we will never commit condone or remain silent about violence towards women,’ says Mr Ngata.

NZ Football will be announcing further initiatives with White Ribbon later in the year.

[1] Snively, Suzanne, The New Zealand Economic Cost of Family Violence (1996)

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About whiteribbonnz
White Ribbon is a community led campaign to end men's violence towards women

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