PREVIEW: Young Phoenix women ready to step up to National League challenge

Playing against a women’s team will be a new experience this year for the Wellington Phoenix Reserves when they make their first appearance in the Women’s National League.

The Nix women spent their winter playing boys’ teams and head coach Katie Barrott says her players look forward to their National League opener against Ellerslie.

“It’ll be a little bit of an unknown for sure,” she said.

“It’ll be a different style of football than we’re used to but we’re really looking forward to it.

“Having a different challenge and getting reward for certain traits that they have but they don’t get to see when they play against boys is what they’re most excited about.

“They should be able to get in behind a little bit more than we’re used to and maybe be a bit more physical.

“We’ve got maybe a handful of players who have played in the national league before and we’ve got a lot of debuts coming up, so I’m really looking forward to that opportunity for them.”

Main photo: New Zealand U-19 international Ella McCann (right) takes on New Caledonia at July’s OFC U-19 Women’s Championship. McCann is in the Phoenix National League squad. Photo: Kirk Corrie / Phototek.

Former Auckland United goalkeeper Aimee Feinberg-Danieli is one of the Phoenix squad members with previous National League experience.Photo: Shane Wenzlick / Phototek.

Barrott said it was important to expose as many players as possible to football at the top domestic level.

“The girls will learn about what it takes at that level.

“We’ve got a really young group of players and there’s going to be some really tough times in the league, but hopefully some of our more experienced under-20 players can set the tone for the young ones coming through.

“Hopefully, players then start shining in the national league and they’re knocking on the door for first team contracts next season.”

Macey Fraser, Zoe McMeeken, Liv Ingham, Manaia Elliott and Daisy Brazendale have all graduated to the Phoenix first team after playing for the reserves in the Capital Development League this year.

“We’ve obviously had Daisy, Manaia, Macey, Liv and Zoe moving on which is our job and we’re super excited for those girls.

“As much as we love these girls and I love to work with all of them, at the end of the day we want to keep moving them on and up.

“It’s a very different looking reserves squad to what we started with at the start of the year and we’ve got a few 2007 and 2008-born girls that are now reserve team players, which is really exciting and that’s what we’re about here.

“If the national league is a platform for them to shine that’d be really cool.”

Kate Barrott … ‘exposing players to the top domestic level is really important.’

The depth of Barrott’s squad will be tested throughout the season with the Phoenix also fielding a side in the girls’ youth national league, while players will move between the reserves and the first team.

“Each week, we’ll look a little bit different.

“We’ve got a lot of young girls who are very, very excited to get the campaign underway.

“They’re the most excited about the away games. Being able to go on the plane and play a football game is a really big deal for 14 and 15-year-olds so they’re beside themselves, they’re so excited.”

Marie Green (left) playing for Ellerslie last year. She’ll face her former club in the opening game of the Women’s National League. Photo: Jackie Tran Van / Phototek.

Defender Marie Green (18) is especially excited about the reserves’ opening-round opponents as Ellerslie is her former club, where she played for seven seasons before joining the Phoenix in April this year.

“It’s a really nice opportunity for these girls to play against their clubs that have done a lot for them.

“We’ve got a bunch of girls from Auckland in our squad that can have their family come watch them. It’s another good thing about the league as well.”

Acknowledgement: Katie Barrott interview provided by Wellington Phoenix.

Phoenix reserves squad

Aimee Danieli, Charlotte Eagle

Ella McMillan, Lara Smith, Rebekah Trewhitt, Emily Humphrey, Mackenzie Greene, Nova Hill, Libby McMillan, Lila Feasey

Alyssha Eglinton, Grace Bartlett, Ellie Johnson, Kyra Elder, Nina Kondo, Sienna Candy

Georgie Furnell, Ella McCann, Angela Pivac, Phoebe Hawes, Gigi Freeman

Ellerslie squad

Petra Wedlake, Alex Loo, Nadia Olla, Kelsea King

Courtney Beale, Tayla Hawes, Kim Oosterbeek, Anita Trudgen, Abby Wright, Paige Ihaka, Mia Collins, Dalila Mosca

Leigh Aitken, Hollie Leona, Cat Pretty, Ella James, Marilia Rocha Xerez Braga, Lyric Davison

Vibha Godha, Cilla Fa’afua, Kat Gow, Britney Cunningham-Lee, Hannah Barclay, Julia Robinson, Sarah Jessup

PREVIEW: Ellerslie’s Ponies ready for National League debut against Phoenix >>>>

How to watch

The game will be one of the first Women’s National League games to be live-streamed under the new content partnership between NZ Football and FIFA+.

READ MORE: ‘Gamechanging’ deal to provide more live-streaming of football than ever before >>>>


Games to be played on Saturday September 23, 2023

Ellerslie v Wellington Phoenix
Michaels Ave, Ellerslie, 2.45pm

ROUND 1: New-look Women’s National League gets underway >>>>

READ MORE: Your guide to the weekend’s big fixtures … all on one page >>>>

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