Leaving a legacy is one of the goals for the inaugural Wellington Phoenix women’s side.
Gemma Lewis’ history-making team are approaching the halfway mark of their maiden season, having suffered five successive defeats since picking up a well-deserved point on debut.
While adding to their points tally and securing their first win are major goals, so is the bigger picture.
Captain Lily Alfeld was Lewis’ first signing and she says it’s one of her aims to leave a “positive legacy for this club going forward”.
“I think it’s a massive opportunity for us to create a culture within the club for the women’s team. We have a massive opportunity to shape where that’s going,” Alfeld said.
“That would definitely be my own personal as well as our team goal to start off on the right foot and have a positive impact on women’s football in New Zealand.”
Delivering consistent performances is also a goal for the players.
“If we go out there every week and improve from week to week and take the learnings we’ve got from each game and put it into practice I’d be over the moon.
“It’s a huge challenge for all of the girls to be expected to perform consistently every week but I think that’s definitely our goal, to go out there and build each week and play that consistent game of football.
“Obviously we recognise we’re the underdogs going into almost every game so we want to win. If we can upset a few teams that’d definitely be success in our books.”
Lewis has encouraged the players to be brave and not be afraid of playing out from the back.
“It’s definitely a juggling act that one,” Alfeld said. “But we’ve all bought into that idea of being brave.
“It starts with us at the back from me and the centre backs, making sure that we’re not just lumping that ball long and trying to get out of our half but we’re actually building up and creating our own chances.”
Personally Lily Alfeld wants to get recognised by the Football Ferns coaches.
“That’s always been my goal to crack the national team. I’ve had a little bit of experience on a couple of tours in 2014 and 2019, but I haven’t been in the mix since then.
“I’d love to be a part of the squad for the home World Cup and obviously the Olympics following that.”
“At the moment if I can put in a good performance every week and play a good season hopefully I’ll get an opportunity there. That’s definitely the overall goal.”
Alfeld knows she will be judged by how many clean sheets she keeps.
“We obviously want to win as many games as we can and we can’t lose if we don’t concede.
“My number one priority is a clean sheet every game.”
She also wants to grow into the captaincy role and refine her leadership skills.
“It’s been a massive step up for me. I haven’t captained before so it’s been a massive learning curve.
“Every game I’ve been taking away new experiences in that captaincy role and just figuring out the demands of it and what’s expected of me.
“A number of girls in the team bring different leadership characteristics to the team so it’s been great to be able to lean on them and share the load.”
The Phoenix have been based in Wollongong for the best part of two months now and the majority of the players have just spent their first Christmas away from family.
But overall Alfeld has loved living with her teammates.
“It’s been a lot of fun. It’s almost like being on a school camp when you’re a kid and you have all of your classmates with you all the time.
“We have to manage it because not very often are you in an environment like this, almost like a camp where you don’t get to go away or go back to your family or friends.
“We’ll just have to be a bit careful of making sure we’re not in each other’s presence too much, that we’re having our own downtime and that we’re getting out and seeing other people and just being a bit more conscious of the fact that it’s a lot of time to spend with each other.
“Overall it’s been awesome. It’s been a lot of fun and we’ve gone out as a team and explored Wollongong.”
“A lot of us, especially the Kiwis, knew each other before but we only just saw each other at training so it’s been really nice to get to know the girls outside of football.”