Waikato Thunder FC: Player resigns over alleged NZ NPL abuse

Image copyright Getty Images Image caption The A-League is a higher profile and wealthier league

The woman at the centre of a New Zealand NPL soccer team’s alleged physical and verbal abuse has resigned.

A Press Association report says the player was named by players as Krista Bingham.

Nine members of the Waikato Thunder FC team have allegedly been subjected to abuse in the past 12 months and six have complained to the Auckland Women’s Football Association.

A statement from the EAFA says it is continuing to investigate.

“We are appalled at what some members of our community have allegedly been subjected to in a period of less than two years,” it said.

“Any person found guilty of unacceptable behaviour will be held to account and this will have no place in a league of this high standard.

“We want to make it absolutely clear that our men’s and women’s teams are capable of playing the game with dignity and conduct worthy of our competitions and people are encouraged to report incidents.”

Video footage obtained by Press Association shows the players involved in heated arguments with Bingham.

Image copyright Press Association Image caption The players are shown raging at Kirsta Bingham

They also appear to argue with other officials and benches during games.

Bingham is a personal trainer and coach at a gym in Taihape and has previously worked as a physical education teacher at a Taihape secondary school.

“Whilst there are many challenges and misunderstandings that can arise in training, I hold my role as coach with the utmost respect and I have no tolerance for abuse or bad language,” she told Press Association in a statement.

“I am leaving the job as I am not able to provide the high standard of training my players expect from me and I want my job to focus on the on-going training we do,” she said.

“The last 12 months have been challenging for myself and my family and I feel it is the best decision for everyone involved.”

A-League coaches focus on form

A change in the NPL season will help the players’ contact with team-mates and improve their focus, the press association report said.

For the first time players’ first-team progress will be communicated weekly by coaches instead of monthly – making it easier for the team to see who is at risk of falling behind.

The EAFA believes communication with the players also aims to avoid the stress that can be placed on players in an off-field environment.

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Two members of the squad, Amanda Bedford and Shannon Yatskas, both 22, say they have been abused by Bingham, and Ms Bedford was shown footage of another player being manhandled and kicked by the player, with the video footage circulated around the team.

Ms Bedford, who has been on the national squad, told the Press Association she was “shocked to see this behaviour in an NPFL game”.

“For coach Bingham to abuse players is not only not acceptable but embarrassing for women’s football,” she said.

“My anger and hurt are now in a much stronger place and I feel I can speak up for the women who don’t have the support they need.”

Missy Rival, 24, who represented the Manawatu Foxes in the inaugural season, said verbal abuse and hazing had been a regular occurrence in training.

Speaking to the Press Association, she said: “What this was turning into was where you’re pushing, grabbing and threatening [each other] if you want to come into first-team training.

“It’s not about coming to training and doing your job, it’s getting in the way and playing hard and dirty which is not allowed.”

The players say three of their team-mates, from Team Wellington, have moved away after being named in the report.

Teams in the national leagues of England, Australia and New Zealand include professional squads, funded by local communities and clubs, and with much stronger financial backing.

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