Grace Jale has been one of the success stories for the Wellington Phoenix in the club’s debut season of women’s A-League competition.
She finished the season with six goals, a decent tally for a player whose team finished bottom of the table, despite a couple of wins and some displays that inspire confidence for improvement next season.
Jale (22) joined the Phoenix after dropping out of favour with the Football Ferns – she has not played an international since 2019 – and having ankle problems, requiring surgery.
Her route to professional football was through Mt Albert Grammar School, Auckland clubs Eastern Suburbs and Bay Olympic, and a season with Wake Forest University in the United States.
When she signed for the Phoenix, she told Stuff football writer Phillip Rollo:
“I can’t picture myself doing anything else just yet.
“I’m young, even though it feels like I’m 90 with my ankles, but having that time out I had time to think like, ‘do I want to get back into this? Is it worth it?’ And I think it definitely is. I can’t live without it.”
Coach Gemma Lewis: ‘This is her stepping stone to the Ferns’
Phoenix head coach Gemma Lewis said:
“This is her stepping stone to get into the Ferns and to show (Football Ferns coach) Jitka (Klimková) what she can do.”
Certainly, Jale now has a highlights reel to draw attention to her goalscoring exploits. Here it is …