Following the recent announcement by the Australian Professional Leagues’ (APL) that three expansion teams are in line to enter the W-League ahead of the FIFA Women’s World Cup 2023, the Wellington Phoenix have been confirmed as the first New Zealand side to compete in the competition.
The Wellington Phoenix W-League team will be supported with staff and resources from New Zealand Football, creating New Zealand’s first-ever professional women’s football team – and a valuable platform for young Kiwi footballers who aspire to play the sport they love at an elite level.
Wellington Phoenix General Manager, David Dome, told the club’s website, “This is the culmination of years of hard work and perseverance to make a professional women’s football team in New Zealand a reality,” says Dome.
“Thanks must go to APL and the incredible work they have done since taking control of the A-League and W-League eight months ago; their strategic focus on providing more games and more opportunities for the nations’ elite female footballers – across both sides of the Tasman – is vital to the growth of the game.
“This also allows us to continue the expansion of our hugely successful Academy programme by building out our female youth development programme – which has already begun the development of the next generation of W-League footballers.
“Make no mistake, this is a huge win for football in New Zealand as it creates another pathway for women to become professionals football players, where they can both develop their skills and showcase their talents to the rest of the world – providing more opportunities for Kiwi women footballers to shine.
“And finally, a plea – a lot of mahi has gone in to get to where we are today: from the Club, APL, New Zealand Football and others. Now we’re asking for support from business New Zealand and Australia.
“This is a unique opportunity to partner with New Zealand’s very first professional women’s football club and demonstrably get in behind something very special – and we need partners to help us do that.”
The Phoenix now have the interesting challenge of building a squad of players. It’ll be interesting to see if they can entice any big-name Kiwis from Europe or those already in the W League to the project.
Dome is confident that the Club can field an energetic and exciting squad in its inaugural season, adding, “We’ve all been busy in the background over the past few years, working towards this exact moment – now that we’ve been given the green light, I’m confident that the Club can finalise the squad relatively quickly in preparation for the season start. We’re really looking forward to making history for women’s football in New Zealand.”