All Blacks coach Ian Foster could have two World Cups on his mind this year after his daughter Michaela Foster made her international debut for New Zealand’s soccer team against Argentina.
Called up to the “Football Ferns” squad last week, Wellington Phoenix defender Michaela Foster was introduced on the hour-mark of the 2-0 defeat at Hamilton’s Waikato Stadium on Monday.
A long-serving flyhalf and coach for Waikato in provincial and Super Rugby, the proud father returned to his old stomping ground to watch his 24-year-old daughter’s debut after offering her a few words of encouragement.
“He’s always trying to give me advice,” Michaela Foster said jokingly yesterday. “No, he’s pretty good. He was just telling me to kind of enjoy the moment... I guess we were both unsure whether I would get on the field this tour or not, but he said just go in with an open mind, open eyes and just soak it all up.”
“He knows it’s a high pressure environment, but as long as you’re kind of open to everything and learning you’ll get the most out of it,” she said.
Just as her father is hoping the All Blacks can peak at the Rugby World Cup in France this year, Michaela Foster is hoping her international breakthrough can lead to a place in New Zealand’s squad for the FIFA Women’s World Cup.
New Zealand are cohosting the July 20 to Aug. 20 showpiece with Australia, and it is a big deal for the game in a rugby-mad country.
Ian Foster has played no small part in the All Blacks’ rise into a global branding powerhouse as a former assistant coach to Steve Hansen’s World Cup winners in England in 2015, before taking the top job after the 2019 tournament in Japan.
Despite living and breathing rugby his whole life, Foster’s enthusiasm for the sport did not extend to his two daughters playing it.
He has instead been right behind Michaela Foster’s development as a soccer player, even if long rugby tours have often kept them apart.
“I did a little bit of rugby and enjoyed it, had a lot of fun with it, but I think dad tried to push me and my sister away from rugby a little bit,” she said. “He probably saw that I enjoyed football a little more, I think.”
“He’s been to as many [of my] games as he can — him and mum are always trying to get to them... It’s pretty cool to have them in the crowd,” she said.
If his daughter is picked for the World Cup, Ian Foster might struggle to catch much of the action while on All Blacks duty. The international season starts in early July.
Michaela Foster’s soccer commitments could also disrupt plans to support her dad at the Sept. 8 to Oct. 28 Rugby World Cup in France.
Both will be proud supporters, whether from the terraces or from a distance.
“I’m extremely proud of what he’s achieved in the rugby world and what he’s continuing to achieve,” Michaela Foster said. “Either way, I’ve always been watching All Blacks games he’s been coaching, no matter where I am in the world.”
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