Phoenix women name Alfeld as their inaugural captain

Experienced goalkeeper Lily Alfeld has been appointed captain of the Wellington Phoenix for their maiden A-League women’s season, following a vote by her teammates.

Adopting a model used by other high performance teams such as the Silver Ferns, the players were asked to answer a number of questions about the team’s leadership in an anonymous survey.

“We tailor-made it to the Wellington Phoenix and the team we wanted to select,” head coach Gemma Lewis said.

“What kind of person builds confidence for you? Who do you trust? Who do you respect? Who leads on the field? Who demonstrates work ethic and the principles that we want to represent as a team?

“And ultimately one of the last questions was who would you vote for as your captain?

“It was a very open process…really engaging the playing group because I think it really needs to be a role that can kind of be a go between myself and the players and also somebody that can take charge on the field and within the playing environment as well.”

Alfeld was Lewis’ first signing and quickly emerged as the obvious candidate to lead the team.

“We took a bit of time before announcing because we wanted to make sure it was the right person, but from the moment we started the team…she’s really stood up as a leader within the group,” Lewis said.

“The players really look up to her, they come to her for advice both on and off the field so it ended up being quite an easy choice for us and the players.”

The former New Zealand age-group representative is the oldest player in the inaugural squad at 26 and joins the club from Perth Glory, where she started all 12 of their matches last season and led the league with 53 saves.

She says she didn’t see her appointment as captain coming.

“It’s a huge honour,” Alfeld said. “Being named as captain for any team is a huge honour but to have the opportunity to lead the girls out on that pitch for the first time in our inaugural season…it’s a very special moment for me.

“This will be another first, captaining at a professional level. It’ll be a huge step up but it’s a challenge I’m really looking forward to.”

And Alfeld is humbled to have been voted captain by her peers.

“I’m very proud of to know that my own teammates would see me in that position and see me capable of doing this role.

“That gives me the confidence going ahead.”

Young defender Kate Taylor has been named the Phoenix’s vice-captain.

Taylor is one of eight 18-year-olds in the squad and joined the club from the successful Canterbury United Pride side that won its third successive national championship last year.

Gemma Lewis acknowledges appointing such a young vice-captain will surprise some.

“I think people would definitely raise their eyebrows at it, but anybody that knows Kate probably isn’t that surprised,” Lewis said.

“And if you look at the demographic of our team she is probably not a super young person within our team. She’s looked up to a lot and…she comes up highly across a lot of those things we asked within the survey.

“She leads by example on the field. She’s starting to really develop her leadership qualities. She holds people accountable. Her work ethic within trainings and games is outstanding and people really look up to her.

“I think she’s going to be a really good complement to Lily in terms of their leadership styles. With the two of them it really helps cover the demographic of our team and really produces a leadership team that is really going to benefit the group.”

And Taylor has the backing of the new captain.

“I can’t speak more highly of Kate. She’s such a talented player with a huge career ahead of her. I think she’ll go on to play for New Zealand for many years,” Alfeld said.

“I think it’s definitely a massive opportunity for her to not only develop as a player, but also as a leader for women’s football in New Zealand.”

The Wellington Phoenix play their historic first match against the Western Sydney Wanderers on Friday at 5:05pm AEDT (7:05pm NZT), with the game live and free-to-air on Prime.