Following last week’s announcement of three expansion sides to enter the W-League ahead of the Women’s World Cup in 2023, the Wellington Phoenix will enter the competition for the upcoming season meaning that ten sides will contest the upcoming season.
This side, as reflected in the A-League team will utilised resources and staff from New Zealand Football and also signifies New Zealand’s first ever women’s professional side.
Phoenix General Manager David Dome expressed his elation at the significant moment for women’s football in New Zealand.
“This is the culmination of years of hard work and perseverance to make a professional women’s football team in New Zealand a reality,” said 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.”
Greg O’Rourke, the APL Leagues Commissioner described the significance of the Pheonix’s inclusion who last season were earmarked as a potential entry into the competition.
“We promised we would move quickly to implement the vision contained in our strategy for the growth of women’s football, and having Wellington join the W-League next season immediately creates more games and more football,” says O’Rourke.
“It comes hot on the heels of a ground-breaking collective bargaining agreement that immediately lifts standards across all our clubs, particularly for the players in the W-League teams.
“We would like to thank both Football Australia and New Zealand Football for their part in helping us to expand the W-League. This is an exciting day for APL but is just one more step in our bold plans for the growth of the game.”
In addition, the season’s structure for this campaign will mean that byes are removed and an extra round of finals will be added constituting 74 games next season, widening opportunities for players.
The two other expansion sides in Western United and the Central Coast Mariners have signified their desire to enter the competition for the 2022/23 season.
Under the terms of Wellington’s women’s team joining the W-League, at least seven players must be Australian while up to four more can be visa players.
The Phoenix W-League side are likely to be based in NSW for the early part of the campaign, until the resumption of the trans-tasman bubble.
The W-League squad for the Phoenix will be recruited over the coming weeks.