Experienced New Zealand women’s coach Gemma Lewis has been confirmed as the inaugural head coach of the Wellington Phoenix’s A-League Women’s side, forming an all-female pairing alongside assistant coach Natalie Lawrence for the 2021/22 season.

Prior to her most recent roles overseeing the Future Ferns Domestic Programme (FFDP) at New Zealand Football and coaching the New Zealand U-20 women’s team, Lewis served as an assistant coach on the bronze medal-winning NZ U-17s at the FIFA U-17 Women’s World Cup Uruguay 2018™ and was an assistant for the Football Ferns during the FIFA Women’s World Cup France 2019™.

Her playing career saw her appear in the top-flight of the English women’s game with Cardiff City, as well as international appearances for her native Wales.

Lewis also has experience coaching in the New Zealand National Women’s League – winning the title with Auckland Football in 2017 – and in 2018 was selected by FIFA to be part of an elite coach mentorship programme, which saw her mentored by Japan women’s team head coach Asako Takemoto.

“It’s really exciting to be leading the inaugural Wellington Phoenix A-League Women’s side. This side is such an important part of the women’s pathway in New Zealand, especially in the lead up to the 2023 FIFA Women’s World Cup on home soil,” Lewis said.

“I’m especially looking forward to giving young players their first taste of professional football as we announce our first signings over the coming weeks and prepare for our first game on December 3.”

Lawrence takes up the assistant coach position following a stint as FFDP and U-20 assistant coach and coach educator/mentor at New Zealand Football.

In addition to her experience in New Zealand, she also boasts time spent coaching in the USA and Canada.

“I’m delighted to be a part of this inaugural Wellington Phoenix side and be part of this massive moment for women’s football in New Zealand,” Lawrence said.

“The opportunities that having this team offers the game in New Zealand are huge and I can’t wait for us to kick off the first campaign.”

New Zealand Football CEO Andrew Pragnell said Lewis and Lawrence are the perfect tandem to help lead the team.

“This is an exciting moment for football in New Zealand, both confirming the first coaching team for the Wellington Phoenix A-League Women’s side and having coaches who have qualified through the New Zealand Football coaching system,” Pragnell said.

“Gemma and Natalie have done a brilliant job across the domestic and international game and will make a great team.”

Lewis and Lawrence are now working on finalising the squad for the Phoenix A-League Women’s side to compete next season, with the first player announcements expected to be made public in the coming weeks.

The squad is expected to travel to New South Wales in the near future as they prepare for the start of the season.

A-League Women’s Draw (to 27 Dec 2021)

R1 – HOME Vs Western Sydney Wanderers*, Venue TBC, 7.05pm NZT, Fri 3 Dec 2021

R2 – AWAY Vs Newcastle Jets*, McDonald Jones Stadium, 7.05pm NZT, Fri 10 Dec 2021

R3 – AWAY Vs Sydney FC*, Netstrata Jubilee Stadium, 6.05pm NZT, Sun 19 ‘Dec 2021

R4 – HOME Vs Newcastle Jets*, Venue TBC, 8.45pm NZT, Mon 27 Dec 2021

* Denotes double-header with A-League Men’s Team