Wellington Phoenix join W-League as New Zealand’s first pro women’s football team

Wellington Phoenix will join the W-League for the upcoming season, with the New Zealand club’s inclusion making for a 10-team trans-Tasman competition. The Phoenix will be the Kiwis’ first professional women’s football team and will be supported with staff and resources from New Zealand Football.

The timing means the Phoenix will get two W-League seasons under their belt before New Zealand and Australia co-host the 2023 Women’s World Cup. It is unclear where they will be based for the upcoming season, due to start in November, given the current closure of the travel bubble between New Zealand and Australia.

“Establishing a professional pathway is a huge moment for women’s football in Aotearoa and across the OFC region,” New Zealand Football chief executive Andrew Pragnell said in a statement.

“This is the culmination of years of work between New Zealand Football, Wellington Phoenix, Football Australia and latterly APL to bring a Kiwi side to the W-League and I want to applaud everyone who has played a role in making it happen. This represents a moment of true collaboration to benefit the game on both sides of the Tasman ahead of our co-hosting of the Fifa Women’s World Cup 2023.”

The Phoenix’s 2021-22 entry removes the weekly competition bye, adding a game a week and they will be followed by Western United and Central Coast in 2022-23. Wellington had originally hoped to join the league before the start of last season but have welcomed their 2021 inclusion and are confident they can put together a strong squad.

“We’ve all been busy in the background over the past few years, working towards this exact moment,” Phoenix general manager David Dome said. “Now that we’ve been given the green light, I’m confident that the club can finalise the squad relatively quickly in preparation for the season start. We’re really looking forward to making history for women’s football in New Zealand.”