Wellington Phoenix midfielder Macey Fraser could be set for another big leap, with a strong chance she will be included in the next Football Ferns squad.
Fraser, who will play just her fifth A League women’s match on Saturday, has been a revelation in her first crack at professional football. The 21-year-old has been key to Wellington’s impressive start to the season, while her form – and two sparkling long-range goals – have also turned heads across the league.
Though her talents have long been recognised by those inside the game – if not officially – it has still been a remarkable rise. After being confined to the Phoenix reserves over the last two seasons, Fraser has adapted swiftly to the new challenge. And it’s not just making the grade; Fraser is leading the charge, which is being noticed by those who matter.
“It’s exciting to watch her,” Fern’s coach Jitka Klimkova told the Herald. “It’s incredible what she is now showing and how consistent she has been in all four games.”
“She is very unique on the ball, very creative, sophisticated, very deceptive and it’s unique for us moving forward. We always want that kind of creativity and desire to progress the ball higher up the field. She is also confident in front of the goal and that’s what I like about her.”
Klimkova said Fraser had been on her radar, as she tracked her progress at the Phoenix academy. The coach also attended the Under-20 World Cup in Costa Rica last year, though Fraser didn’t get any game time.
“I’ve been very aware [of] where she was and where she is right now,” said Klimkova.
The squad for the series against Colombia – with games in Bogota on December 3 and December 6 - will be announced next week.
Klimkova wouldn’t disclose if Fraser would be called up: “You will see next week – I’m not saying yes or no.”
However, the coach admitted she had been impressed with the maturity of the A League rookie and indicated that her lack of professional experience wouldn’t be an issue.
“If the player is ready, in a good spot, my door is open,” said Klimkova. “Of course, we want players who can shine and be influential, even in our environment. The door is open for everyone; it’s more about is [the player] prepared, is she ready - that’s always my first question.
“Knowing [Macey] more and more, she has the right mindset, she knows what she wants, all those details are important for her future.”
Fraser came to the fore as part of the New Zealand team that claimed bronze at the 2018 Under-17 Women’s World Cup in Uruguay. She was the youngest member of Leon Birnie’s squad – a few months past her 16th birthday – but stood out, starting in five matches.
However, her path after that tournament was more complicated. She had a couple of stints at the Football Ferns Development Programme but didn’t particularly enjoy the environment - or find it challenging enough - and chose to join Wellington’s Ole Academy in 2020 instead.
“Most girls who are under the New Zealand framework are a bit pressured to go to Auckland because that’s where they run everything,” Fraser told the Herald back in 2020. “It’s a bit sad that you are expected to go. But in the end, they have to pick the best players, so I am trying to be the best player I can so they have to pick me.”
Fraser then joined the Phoenix academy the following season, but struggled for recognition at national level, with Under-20 coach Gemma Lewis (who also oversaw the FFDP), opting for other players. But Fraser toiled away for two seasons in the reserves, before her breakthrough this year under new coach Paul Temple, who has long recognised her ability.
“Everyone knows about her talent but she also has a strong mentality,” Temple told the Herald. “She has so much desire to improve and has been working at this for a long time. Now it is about making sure she can shine for us and giving her the chance to have the most influence. "
Colombia v Football Ferns
December 3 10am [NZT]: Estadio El Campin, Bogotá, Colombia.
December 6 9am [NZT]: Estadio Metropolitano de Techo, Bogotá, Colombia.
Michael Burgess has been a sports journalist since 2005, winning several national awards and covering Olympics, Fifa World Cups and America’s Cup campaigns. A football aficionado, Burgess will never forget the noise that greeted Rory Fallon’s goal against Bahrain in Wellington in 2009.