Barbara Cox

Scratched: Barbara Cox, the matriarch of New Zealand football (WATCH)

From tennis champions to dance craze inventors, Scratched celebrates New Zealand sporting heroes who never got their due – but whose legacies deserve to be in lights. This month, Barbara Cox, the matriarch of New Zealand football.

New Zealand’s first women’s football team wasn’t formed until 1975. Barbara Cox was the captain, and led the team’s fundraising efforts which included selling kisses at the local bar for 20 cents.

Born in 1947, Cox grew up learning that a woman’s role was to cook and clean and take care of her husband. So when her husband signed her up to a local football team in 1973, Cox’s life changed. With help from a few male administrators, and not much help from anyone else, Cox and her team mates worked to a top four world ranking, beating the US on the way. Cox represented New Zealand for over a decade, and went on to become the first woman to receive the top New Zealand football coaching certificate.

New Zealand has come a long way in its treatment of female athletes, but only thanks to those who refused to put up with double standards long ago. Barbara Cox is one of them and her work isn’t done.

Watch Scratched episode 1: Ruia Morrison, the first Māori tennis player to compete at Wimbledon. 

Watch Scratched episode 2: Anne Audain, the the winningest road runner in history.

Watch Scratched episode 3: Brett Fairweather, the creator of Jump Jam.

Watch Scratched episode 4: Chunli Li, undefeated in New Zealand at 57-years-old

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