Phoenix don’t want ALW participation award

George Clarke |

Wellington Phoenix forward Grace Jale wants to end the perception that her side are easybeats of the A-League Women, bluntly declaring: “We’re not here to get the participation award”.

In their first season in the competition the Phoenix have lost all but one of their eight games, conceding 22 goals and netting just three in return.

Jale is one of those goalscorers and says as the season nears its climax she wants to leave an impression on the competition rather than being the team that plays others into form. 

“It’s kind of the same feedback from a lot of people,” Jale told AAP, ahead of Monday night’s clash with Perth Glory.

“We improve and gel together more and more but that’s not going to make it. We need to win games.

“It’s kind of hit us hard that there are only six games left, and we want to make our mark. We’re not here to get the participation award.

“We want to get out there and fight. Sometimes games don’t go our way, but I definitely believe there is more to come.”

After opening their existence with a 0-0 draw against Western Sydney, it’s been loss after loss for Gemma Lewis’ youthful side.

Recent results, including last week’s 1-0 loss to Adelaide and a 3-2 defeat at the hands of Brisbane a fortnight ago might indicate that they are turning the corner.

But Jale, who at 22 is one of the club’s more senior players and spent time playing college football in the US, says that belief remains high among her teammates, who have had to spend the season based in Australia.

“I wish we had more pre-season time together because we are a bunch of young strangers thrown together,” she said.

“This is a big step for a lot of these girls. At first I was worried, I didn’t know if they could cook for themselves.

“We’ve never lost our spirit and we don’t really dwell on it. Our captain Lily Alfeld brings everyone together and Kelli Brown brings the good vibes for sure.”