Football Ferns goalkeeper Erin Nayler is looking forward to the prospect of more game time as she begins a new professional contract at Bordeaux.
The 25-year-old from Auckland, who has played 48 internationals for New Zealand, has played for three clubs in the south of France in Olympique Lyon, Grenoble and now Bordeaux.
Nayler said the move to Bordeaux appealed as they are a new team, which were created in 2015 in Division One in France, with plenty of ambition.
“This year they have decided to put a real emphasis on their women’s team and have recruited seven or eight new players with the ambition to be in the top five teams in the league within the next two to three years. So I was keen to be part of this. Also, Bordeaux is an amazing city.”
The former Norwest United keeper said the move overseas has helped take her game to a new level.
“Here in France, the keepers are expected to be very good with their feet, as they play out from the back most of the time. So this has been the most challenging part so far but it has helped me develop this side of my game.”
Football Ferns coach Tony Readings said it was a good move for Nayler as she looks to keep building as an international goalkeeper.
“For us to be consistently competitive on the world stage we need all of our players playing professionally in the best leagues in the world,” said Readings. “The French league attracts some of the world’s best players and it will be great for Erin to progress her game against this level of opposition.”
Nayler is loving French culture and is looking forward to be living by the coast this season. She can understand “quite a bit” of the language, but finds speaking quite difficult. This season she will take French lessons through her new club.
“My goal for this contract is to push myself to develop even further and to help the team finish as high up the table as possible,” she said. “It will be a tough season with games against top opposition such as Olympique Lyon and Paris St Germain.”
Nayler is also hoping to be back into the Football Ferns environment as they prepare to play the USA in two international friendlies next month.
“It will be good to be back with the team as we haven’t been together since March [at the Cyprus Cup],” she said. “It will be a crucial step in our development as a team heading toward the World Cup in 2019.”
The USA and New Zealand have met 14 times in history, with the World No 1 having won 12, drawn once and lost once to the Ferns.
These international friendlies will be the first meetings with New Zealand on American soil since a 4-0 win in St. Louis on April 4, 2015 in the lead up to the 2015 FIFA Women’s World Cup.
The tour will mark 30 years since New Zealand’s only victory over the USA which came in the first match between the teams back in 1987, a 1-0 victory for the Football Ferns.
The USA and New Zealand have played once before in Cincinnati, a 6-0 USA win in 2004 on the post-Olympic tour after the USA won the gold medal in Athens, Greece.
The most recent game between these two sides was at the Rio Olympics where the USA won 2-0 and Nayler said the team want to see how good they are as they build towards the pinnacle events.
“It will definitely be a tough game as always, but also a great opportunity,” she said. “It will be a really important for our team. Playing a top team against the US is the best way to push forward toward the next big events. This tour will help us to identify our strengths and our weaknesses early on and allows us time to work on those.”
Football Ferns Tour of the USA
15 September, kick off at 8pm (local time)
Dick’s Sports Goods Park in Commerce City, Colorado
19 September, kick off 7:30 pm (local time)
Nippert Stadium on the campus of the University of Cincinnati