‘Biggest transfer we’ve ever had’ is a ‘game-changer’ for an entire nation: ‘It’s massive’

WATCH: This is the highlights reel that earned Macey Fraser a record-breaking move to the NWSL.

Macey Fraser’s record-breaking move to NWSL outfit Utah Royals is being hailed as a ‘game-changing’ move for football in New Zealand, made possible by the pathways Liberty A-League side Wellington Phoenix have created in the country.

The 21-year-old only made her senior football debut in Round 1 of this Liberty A-League season, but has enjoyed a rapid rise out of the Phoenix academy, establishing herself as one of the stars of the competition with a reel of jaw-dropping goals and earning her first international caps for the Football Ferns.

On Wednesday, it was announced that the midfielder will be making the leap to the NWSL, widely regarded as one of the top two women’s leagues on the planet.

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As Phoenix Women’s boss Paul Temple put it: “The best players in the world play there, it’s as simple as that.”

Fraser laughed during her press conference as she admitted that until recently she couldn’t even locate Utah on a world map, but it will now become her home as she chases her dream on the other side of the world.

Asked what is most exciting for her about the move, she replied: “I think just that opportunity to be on a big stage and try and compete with the best in the world.

“It’s not something every Kiwi gets to do. So yeah, I’m grateful for that.”

Indeed, for Fraser and the Phoenix, this move is something special.

The club’s academy pathways have already seen significant moves for men’s stars like Sarpreet Singh and Liberato Cacace in past years, but this is the first time a women’s player has earned a big ticket move abroad after graduating into the senior side.

“Yeah, it’s massive, right?” said the club’s Director of Football Shaun Gill.

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“We’ve had the academy in operation now for a number of years. Obviously, it started predominately with the boys side of things but to now have the Girls Academy at three teams and to have A-League Woman side and have players actually now come through the academy like Macy has over the last two years come into the first team, do well and then go on.

“It’s a replication of guys like Sarpreet (Singh), Waino (Ben Waine), Libby (Cacace). 

“So to have our first female player in Macy go and do that is phenomenal. 

“It’s a real credit to everybody at the club, to everyone in the academy, to all the staff, but also to the owner investing a lot into this performance pathway in sort of doing a lot of the heavy lifting to get the players off around the world. So yeah, it’s fantastic.”

Temple added: ”I think it’s huge for football in New Zealand, for female footballers. 

“I saw it with my own eyes in Christchurch. I was at the game. I’ve seen it all season. 

“There’s hundreds of young girls that are idolising the players at the Phoneix, who idolise Macy and so this is a little bit like when Sarpreet (Singh) left for Bayern. 

“It was a bit of a game changer. And I think in women’s football, this is a game-changing move. This is the biggest transfer we’ve ever had in women’s football and so now it opens the door.”

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He continued: “The really exciting thing for me is Macy’s journey is different from everyone else’s.

“I think it just shows that you’re going to have players in our academy now that are maybe thinking they’re behind or maybe thinking things aren’t going well, or they’re not on the right path, and you’re gonna have girls that aren’t even in our academy yet that want to be. 

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“And for them to know that everyone’s journey can be different, but if you believe in something, and you work hard at something, and you put in the effort that Macy’s put into her game, then these things are possible. 

“I think when you start opening that up, it’s so exciting for young players and to have that visible pathway now and to have somebody like Macy show like what you can do and what you can achieve then I just think that’s the best possible outcome for young players in this country, for the Academy, for New Zealand football. 

“I think it’s awesome having that pathway open now and visual to everybody.”

For the Phoenix, developing the next generation of Kiwi football stars is clearly a priority.

“Yeah 100%, we’ve spoken in the preseason around the strategy with the boys side of things, and providing our good Kiwi talent out of the academy with a platform to play in the A-League Men’s and it’s no different in the woman’s space,” Gill said.

“Macy, is one of those, we’ve also had Manaia (Elliott) doing really, really well, and Daisy (Brazendale) doing really, really well coming through that system, Emma Main to a certain extent as well, Mikayla Robinson, so it’s yeah, it’s critical for us. 

“While it only probably touches the sides in terms of the transfer fee, you know, it’s not going to keep the club going forever. Again, it comes back to the investment that the owners are doing. And it’s just, it’s just a bit of a payback for me.

“If we look at it now, it’s really only the wellness group that are investing into this pathway. New Zealand football used to provide funding for All Whites years back, and then that sort of dried up. 

“At the moment, there’s no investment from New Zealand football in anything, particularly if you look at this facility, it’s not cheap. 

“If you have a look at this facility, now, the Hurricanes are doing well, the Phoenix is doing well in the Men’s space. So it’s a state of the art facility. 

“And I think people outside that wellness group need to actually go, hey, there’s something special here that we need to boost them and help these clubs with.”

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