The Young Football Ferns' success at the Under-17 Football World Cup has opened the door for glittering careers for several players, coach Leon Birnie believes.
Eliminated at the semi-final stage by eventual winners Spain, the Young Football Ferns overcame Canada 2-1 on Sunday morning to take the bronze medals, with their prizes on show at Auckland Airport this morning.
Speaking to 1 NEWS, Birnie says that his side have shown that they can compete with the best in the world, with professional careers waiting in the wings.
"The 17s tournament is the start of their journey, their first real challenge to test themselves with the best players in the world," he began.
"It was pretty obvious that most of these girls stood up on the world stage. I expect these girls, a good majority of them, to move through to the under 20s, to the (Football) Ferns.
"It is a long way off to get to that level, but from what they've shown I think they're more than capable of doing that."
New Zealand's success at the Uruguay tournament could have already laid the foundations for the next generation of our women's footballers, with coach Birnie confirming that goalkeeper Anna Leat had travelled to the United States to look at possible college options for when she's finished school.
"She's just trying to piece the next steps of her pathway and also her education."