Women footballers can now reach their professional goals at home with the Phoenix

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Wellington Phoenix academy players Tui Dugan and Macey Fraser can now achieve their professional goals in New Zealand.

JERICHO ROCK-ARCHER / STUFF

Wellington Phoenix academy players Tui Dugan and Macey Fraser can now achieve their professional goals in New Zealand.

Growing up in Wairarapa, Tui Dugan always believed that she would have to move abroad to achieve her goal of becoming a professional soccer player.

This is a situation Fern Annalie Longo, 124 caps, has faced throughout his playing career.

But Dugan’s dream, and that of many other aspiring footballers across New Zealand, can now be realized closer to home.

JERICHO ROCK-ARCHER / Tips

Wellington Phoenix has announced plans to enter a team in the Australian W-League

In a major development for women’s football in Aotearoa, Wellington Phoenix announced on Friday that it will enter a team in the Australian W-League for the coming season, giving New Zealand their first-ever professional women’s football team.

READ MORE:
* Wellington Phoenix to enter women’s W-League squad this season
* New Football Ferns coach Jitka Klimková received significant support at crucial time
* Wellington Phoenix will be included in the enlarged W-League ahead of the 2023 World Cup

Longo, New Zealand’s women’s development manager and key member of the Melbourne Victory squad that won the W-League last season, said a professional women’s team was long overdue.

It should also give the Football Ferns a boost ahead of the 2023 Women’s World Cup at home.

“It’s something we’ve been looking for for a long time; to have our own professional team in New Zealand, ”said Longo.

Annalie Longo, Head of Women's Development at NZ Football, celebrates the creation of a Phoenix women's team.

Jericho Rock-Archer / STUFF

Annalie Longo, Head of Women’s Development at NZ Football, celebrates the creation of a Phoenix women’s team.

“It’s a little intimidating knowing that you might have to travel to America or Europe to play professionally. It’s so far from home and it’s a bit of a stranger.

“But having this full journey from community to professional is going to really change the landscape of women’s football in New Zealand.”

Dugan, 18, joined Wellington Phoenix academy this year after impressing for Wairarapa United, where she was mentored by Phoenix legend Paul Ifill.

She said she hopes to make the academy leap and sign a W-League contract in the years to come.

“When I was younger, before I met Paul, I always thought I should go through the American university system. I was actually an American citizen through my dad, and that was my path to professional football, ”said Dugan.

“But then I met Paul and he opened my eyes [to what is possible]. I wouldn’t be where I am today without him, so it would be normal for that to happen.

“I won’t be disheartened if it isn’t this year, but it’s such an amazing thing to aspire to and have something to do in New Zealand and a reason to stay here.”

The Phoenix women’s team will be based in Australia in their debut season in the W-League due to ongoing travel restrictions in the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic, but club officials are still hoping to hold a double schedule. with the Sky Stade men’s team in 2022.

“We would love to be back to bring the two teams back,” said Phoenix general manager David Dome, “but that will really depend on how open the border is.”


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