The first leg of the FIFA Women's World Cup 2011™ Welcome Tour came to a successful conclusion on Friday, 10 December 2010 with an informative and entertaining Countdown Event in Auckland, New Zealand.
The evening at the Crowne Plaza Hotel provided FIFA and the OC with another opportunity to promote the first ever FIFA Women's World Cup to be held in Germany, while OC President Steffi Jones also had the chance to meet up with legendary New Zealand striker Wynton Rufer for an interesting conversation at the former All White's own football academy.
"Germany is my second home," said Rufer, who made 174 appearances for Werder Bremen between 1989 and 1995. "The country showed the world wonderful hospitality in 2006, as well as their ability to organise a flawless tournament. The Women's World Cup 2011 will once again promote Germany's positive image around the world and I'm delighted the New Zealand women's team will have the chance to be a part of it."
"Wynton Rufer is a great ambassador for football. He lives the values of our beloved sport and passes his knowledge on to other children and young people less fortunate than ourselves. The reaction he got during our visit to a school in a deprived area of the Auckland suburbs was very impressive," said OC President Jones, who went on to emphasise the significance of the trip Down Under. "We've been overwhelmed by all the support we've received in both countries. The fact that the entire New Zealand FA board and 20 current members of the women's national team attended the event speaks volumes for the worldwide reputation of the Women's World Cup. The high expectations placed on Germany as hosts gives us further incentive to work even harder towards our goals."
After kicking off the Welcome Tour in Sydney, Australia, OC President Jones also managed to take part in a workshop focused on the international promotion of women's football hosted by FIFA Head of Women's Competitions Tatjana Haenni. "The FIFA Workshop is the ideal place to exchange ideas and strategies regarding the further development of women's football worldwide," said Jones.
New Zealand FA president Frank van Hattum, German ambassador to New Zealand Thomas Hermann Meister, women's national team coach John Herman and 20 members of the current women's squad were among the 150 or so guests invited from the worlds of politics, business, culture and sport. Steve Sumner, captain of the All Whites at the 1982 FIFA World Cup™, was appointed a FIFA Women's World Cup 2011 ambassador for New Zealand by the OC President.
"FIFA and the OC are making a massive contribution to the promotion of women's football in our country. This extraordinary gesture has everyone really looking forward to the Women's World Cup in 2011," said Van Hattum.
The second leg of the Welcome Tour takes Steffi Jones and her team to Abuja, the capital of Nigeria, where the buildup to the FIFA Women's World Cup 2011 will continue on 19 January 2011.