New Football Fern Mackenzie Barry is proud to be returning for a second season with the Wellington Phoenix.
The young centre back has jumped at the opportunity to re-sign with the Phoenix for the 2022/23 Liberty A-League, after leading the team in clearances, blocks and interceptions in their inaugural campaign.
Barry’s performances caught the eye of Ferns coach Jitka Klimková, who named the 21-year-old in the New Zealand squad for last month’s internationals against Norway and Wales.
“I’m really proud to be playing for the Phoenix,” Barry said. “I feel quite committed to the club after just one season and I really want us to do well.
“Last season we progressed so much and I’m really looking forward to seeing how we compete in the league this year and how much we’ve improved.
“It felt like we were just getting started last season. We were really competing well, we were winning games and we were scoring goals so this season is really exciting.”
Barry, who hails from Taranaki, is also looking forward to playing in front of Phoenix fans in Wellington for the first time.
“Playing at home will make everyone more passionate.
“We had a great little support group in Australia and they were so committed and amazing, but I think playing in front of your friends and family you are really playing for something and you want to do the best you can in front of them and make them proud.
“Everyone is going to step up and it’s going to be really special, especially that first game, playing in front of friends and family. I’m really looking forward to it.”
She will have “a little support group” in Wellington when she moves down in October, with her older brother and one of her younger sisters studying in the capital.
“Moving to Wellington does feel more like home, knowing that I’ve got my family and other friends there.”
Phoenix head coach Gemma Lewis is “really excited to have Mack back”.
“She grew through the season and we saw how dominant she was for us in a defensive role,” Lewis said.
“She was really key for us cleaning up a lot at the back and she kept us in a lot of games.
“Being called up to the Football Ferns just shows the progress that she’s making. She’s just getting started and we believe we can help develop her into a key player for the Ferns.”
Barry is the Phoenix women’s first signing for year two.
“We want to continue the momentum from the second half of our first season and continue what we’re building,” Lewis said.
“We really believe in the team that we invested in and we want to make sure we secure and work with those key players moving forward to make sure we can keep developing our identity and showing New Zealand and the A-League what the Wellington Phoenix women’s team is about.”
The 2022/23 Liberty A-League season is scheduled to start on November 18, with a draw due out in the next month.