Barry selected in women’s Phoenix team

Thursday, Nov 11 2021

Barry selected in women’s Phoenix team

Will Johnston

Mackenzie Barry (left) playing in the national league for the Northern Lights in 2019.

Mackenzie Barry’s lockdown was given a boost after the biggest call-up of her football career.

The 20-year-old from New Plymouth was selected in the Wellington Phoenix’s women’s A-League squad – New Zealand’s first professional women’s side.

“It’s been a childhood dream to play professional football,” she said from her Sydney base.

“It’s really cool and really promising for women’s football in New Zealand.”

Barry credits her training with the Future Ferns team and knew the coaches who eventually made the phone call.

“They were keeping tabs on me and a few of the other girls. They reached out to us and called me. I was so excited.”

She admits the build-up to her selection wasn’t structured after there was uncertainty whether the side would enter the 10-team competition based in Australia.

But after the logistics were ironed out, Barry joined the squad for a two-week training camp in Wellington in October before flying out earlier this month.

Now preparing for the first match on December 3 against the Western Sydney Wanderers, she knows the step up will be a big leap compared to what she’s used to.

She was part of the New Zealand team, which won bronze in the U-17 Fifa World Cup in Uruguay in 2018.

“Professional football is definitely a step up compared to age-group world cups. This is our job now.

“Playing at such a highly competitive level in Uruguay was definitely helpful. There will now be some women who are probably 10 years older than me.”

The team will be involved in a handful of friendly matches against male counterparts while having double training days which include sprinting, skill and gym sessions.

With Covid heavy restrictions, Barry said the team is confined to New South Wales venues for the first five rounds.

“We have lots of masks and do Covid tests before training just to keep everyone safe.”

Barry will be away for about six months with the hope the team can play at home when the borders open.

“It’s what we signed up for and we were totally aware we had to make some sacrifices. It’s football, so we don’t mind,” she said.