Emma Main has forced her way into the Wellington Phoenix squad for the 2023-24 Liberty A-League.
The versatile forward has signed a one-year deal with the Phoenix, after impressing as an injury replacement in the final week of last season.
Main, 23, provided an assist moments after coming off the bench in her A-League debut in Adelaide, before inspiring the Nix to come from two goals down to draw 2-2 with reigning champions Melbourne Victory in their final round match at Sky Stadium.
“I’d been training for the last two years to make the team so getting the call-up was awesome,” she said.
“I was pretty excited about it, and I knew given it was such a short stint I had to perform if I wanted to get a look in this season.
“My only thoughts were to leave it out on the field and I’m guessing Paul (Temple) saw that and saw how much I wanted to be part of the team.”
The Wellingtonian is Temple’s first signing since being appointed head coach.
“Emma did really well in the academy last year,” he said. “We saw a lot of potential in her and a lot of growth.
“She’s got good versatility to play anywhere in the front line and she also had a really big impact on the team in two A-League games after having to wait her time, which shows her strength of character.
“Having worked with Emma in the academy I know what level she can get to and our job is to take her to that next level in the A-League and to potentially become an option for the Football Ferns.
“It’s also great that she’s another Wellingtonian that the public can get behind.”
Emma Main played all of her junior football at Upper Hutt City and represented New Zealand at the FIFA U-17 Women’s World Cup in Jordan in 2016 before heading to the U.S. in 2019 to be a student athlete at the University of Illinois Chicago (UIC).
Injuries cut-short Main’s time in Illinois and she joined Wellington United upon her return home.
She led United to the 2021 Kate Sheppard Cup title in March last year and was named the winner of the Maia Jackman Trophy as the most valuable player in the final.
Soon after Main joined the Phoenix academy.
“I met up with Paul last year and said I’d like to join the academy, I’d like to go pro and I’d like to play for the Wellington Phoenix and he was all for it.
“Based on what he’d seen of me he said, ‘yep you definitely can make that happen if you put in the work, and we can provide a place for you to do that and get the training and growth that you need’.
“It was cool having him say that and believe in me over the last year.”
She trained with a couple of the boys’ teams at the academy and played with the women’s development team.
“It’s been a really important part of my growth as a player.
“The boys are strong, quick and fast so it really makes you have to think quicker and hold your own in an environment like that.”
At the end of the season Main joined the Phoenix women’s squad for their second A-League campaign.
“That was awesome to get the opportunity to train with the girls and get a taste for what it would be like if I was in the team.
“My training regime didn’t differ much from the squad members. I just didn’t go away with the team.”
She is hoping to turnaround the Phoenix’s goalscoring fortunes.
“That’s one of the work-ons we had last season and hopefully something I can bring to the team this season whether by scoring goals or contributing assists.
“That’s something I’ll be looking to develop and grow over the next few months before the season starts.”
Emma Main joins midfielders Chloe Knott and Alyssa Whinham in the Phoenix women’s squad for the 2023-24 A-League, with further announcements to follow in the coming weeks.