Tony Readings steps down as coach of the New Zealand Football Ferns

The Football Ferns coach has stepped down after more than six years in charge.
The Football Ferns coach has stepped down after more than six years in charge. Photo credit: Photosport

The Football Ferns are on the hunt for a new coach after the experienced Tony Readings stepped down from the role.

The 42-year-old took charge of the team back in 2011, and led them at the 2012 and 2016 Olympics, as well as the Women's World Cup in 2015.

"I've spent a lot of time with the team, and I've put a lot of effort in - and hopefully I've made a decent impact," he told Newshub.

"All good things come to an end, and for me it's definitely time for a new challenge."

Readings was a pivotal figure in the resurgence of New Zealand, leading them to famous wins over Brazil and their highest FIFA ranking of 16th.

"I'm quite proud, I took over from a great coach so there was already a good foundation in place," he said.

"I've been lucky - I've worked with some really special players."

Women's football in New Zealand has punched above its weight during Readings' reign, despite a lack of resources.

It hasn't always been smooth sailing however, with captain Abby Erceg retiring from the national side, after hitting out at a lack of support from New Zealand Football. 

Readings admits it hasn't been easy trying to compete with some of the powerhouse football nations.

"It's always been a challenge. Ever since I've been involved with the team we've never had as much money as the best teams in the world.

"We have been competitive, but it has been harder and harder every year to keep that competitiveness because all the major countries have their professional leagues, they have their big budgets, so we have to do things differently."

Readings is confident the Football Ferns development programme can continue to provide a pathway to professional contracts for players. 

While the Ferns have struggled in recent times, including losing all three of their group matches at this year's Cyprus Cup, Readings is confident the team are in a good place, and is optimistic about their future.

"We've got a good group of players, we've got a good development programme in place, we're still being supported by High Performance Sport New Zealand," he said.

"I hope someone comes in with some fresh ideas, improves what we've done, and takes what's been done and makes it better."

Readings is looking forward to having a bit of break and spending time with the family before planning out his next move.

New Zealand Football Technical Director Andreas Heraf and New Zealand U-20 coach Gareth Turnbull will lead the upcoming tour to Thailand in November, ahead of a new appointment being made.