4 Feb 2022

Mental health takes its toll on Phoenix midfielder

7:19 am on 4 February 2022

Phoenix midfielder Grace Wisnewski will miss their A-League women's game against Melbourne Victory tonight due to mental health issues.

Phoenix midfielder Grace Wisnewski


Coach Gemma Lewis says Wisnewski has been struggling with anxiety for the past 18 months and has been receiving professional support throughout the season.

"We've supported her and think she's an incredible player and an incredible person, but obviously this has been big for her and even before coming here (to Australia) she was working through mental health and deals with some anxiety, and we've supported her through this whole programme, both at home and here," Lewis said.

Lewis has praised Wisnewski's honesty and has backed her call to sit out the game due to the short turnaround between fixtures.

"We massively support that and we also think it's the right decision for the team.

"As much as she's a big loss for us because she's played 90 minutes of all our games and is a massive workhorse for us, so we also respect where she's at and how much she's been pushing through.

"With the short turnaround, she doesn't get a good recovery space and settles in enough time to be ready again, and she doesn't want to put the team in any necessary harm by potentially not playing as well as she would have liked to."

Wisnewski was a key member of the New Zealand under-17 side that finished third at the 2018 World Cup.

Meanwhile changes to New Zealand's border restrictions will come too late for the side.

The Phoenix have been based in Australia for their inaugural A-League season and will see out the season across the Tasman.

However, Lewis says the government's plan to phase out MIQ gives the team certainty about getting home.

Lewis says there would be benefits for the whole league if games could be played in Wellington next season.

"When you're trying to make this League more professionalised I think having us play proper home and away is important.

"We'll see how it goes but we'll definitely be pushing and hoping next year playing proper home and away based in Wellington."

The Phoenix are yet to win this season but Lewis sees potential for a run of winning results in the back end of the season.

"We look at the next five games and feel like there's more up for grabs than just one win in there and based on our current performances and the opposition we've come up against we not necessarily happy with just one win."