Ford, the US-based car giant, has sealed a three-year partnership with New Zealand Football, the country’s governing body for the sport, which has a core focus on supporting all levels of women’s soccer, from grassroots to elite level.

Through the deal, Ford will become the first-ever naming rights partner of the national women’s soccer team, the Football Ferns, who will become known as the Ford Football Ferns.

Ford also becomes the naming rights partner to a number of initiatives including the Women in Leadership Programme, the Community Leadership Programme, the Female Coach Mentorship Programme and the Future Ferns Domestic programme.

In addition, it has been named as the official partner of the women’s National League Championship.

Ford joins NIKE, Sky Sport, McDonalds, Go Media and ACC SportSmart as partners to New Zealand Football.

It is understood that the deal has been in the works for over a year and, according to a quote attributed to James Wear, the general manager of brand and partnerships at New Zealand Football, it represents “one of the biggest partnerships” that the organisation has had for some time.

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The tie-up will be active during the 2023 Fifa Women’s World Cup, which is set to be co-hosted by New Zealand and Australia.

Wear said: “This partnership headlines with the naming rights to the Football Ferns, the first time a New Zealand Football national team has had a naming rights partner, but it also filters right through the development system.”

“The women’s game continues to grow rapidly and will explode by 2023. Ford have always recognised the opportunity for this presents for partners and we are excited to begin this journey with them.”

Cameron Thomas, marketing director of Ford New Zealand, added: “This partnership reflects Ford’s ongoing commitment to sport in New Zealand as well as our focus on diversity and creating a culture of belonging.

“The partnership will also give our Ford New Zealand future leaders the opportunity to engage with the leadership and mentoring programs to help learn and develop the skills needed to be their best in the corporate environment, much like in high-performance sport with the Football Ferns.”