Phoenix midfielder putting her mental health first

Wellington Phoenix midfielder Grace Wisnewski is returning home to New Zealand for mental health reasons.

Wisnewski made herself unavailable for the Phoenix’s 10th round Liberty A-League match against Melbourne Victory at the start of the month, as she didn’t feel she would be able to perform at her best.

The 19-year-old has started the team’s last two matches, including their historic 3-0 win over Canberra United, but will miss their remaining games against Western Sydney Wanderers and Perth Glory to prioritise her mental health.

She will fly home on Monday, when New Zealanders can travel from Australia without going into MIQ.

Phoenix head coach Gemma Lewis says Wisnewski has shown great courage to put her health first.

“This hasn’t been a decision that’s been easy for Grace to make. She’s a big part of this team both on and off the field,” Lewis said.

“We’re incredibly proud of the bravery that Grace has shown to ask for help when needed and to prioritise her mental wellbeing.”

Grace Wisnewski has been a key member of the inaugural Phoenix women’s side, playing 90 minutes in all 11 matches she started.

“She’s a brilliant player but also such an incredible person and we feel lucky to have had her be part of this first Wellington Phoenix team.

“Everyone here will miss Grace but both the players and staff are fully behind her and we’re some of her biggest supporters on her mental health journey.”

Phoenix general manager David Dome says Wisnewski has the support of the entire club.

“We are immensely proud of Grace and her courage to do what is right for her and her mental health.

“Despite being just 19, she is a role model for young athletes because of both her performances on the pitch and how she has conducted herself during what has been a trying season for the whole team.

“The entire club stands in solidarity with Grace and we look forward to seeing her back on the pitch when she’s ready.”