Wellington Phoenix head coach Gemma Lewis has acknowledged the sacrifices made by her players in their debut women’s A-League season.
“They’ve come over here and it’s been really hard and really tough and it’s been a tough season,” she told AAP after her side’s first competition win, a 3-0 drubbing of Canberra United.
Despite a record of one win and a draw from their first 11 games, the Phoenix side have been competitive in almost all their games.
But consider the challenges they have had to overcome:
- The squad was brought together in only three weeks after the club was given entry to this year’s league while other clubs were already into pre-season (and had secured most of the top-line players).
- The Phoenix squad had little experience at this level with an average age of 19.
- The players had to move to Australia so the club could comply with COVID-19 international border restrictions which also meant the Phoenix have yet to play a game that can truly be considered a home fixture.
“We’ve worked so hard under quite harsh circumstances being away from home … they’ve left their families, they’ve left their homes,” Lewis said.
With their first win achieved, Lewis says the squad now wants to carry on building consistency.
Phoenix captain Lily Alfeld was thrilled with the win and told Stuff.co.nz football writer Phillip Rollo:
“To experience that first win with this group of girls given the challenges we have faced this season, and a lot of the previous performances where it’s felt like we have just missed out, that win was within our grasp, and to do it in a fashion where we won comfortably in the end is just amazing.
“There were tears and there were hugs and the bus [back to the hotel] was fun.
“I felt like a proud mum. Because a lot of them are quite young, when we have losses they take them quite hard, and it’s such a new experience for them, so to be able to see them on the opposite end of the spectrum, that pure elation of winning was amazing and if anything it has increased the hunger for this team and the want to go on and do this for the next few games.”
Phoenix are level on points with Canberra but remain at the foot of the table on goal difference.