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Football Fern Michaela Robertson becomes first woman to join all-male Wellington Phoenix training school

It's not unusual to see women training at the normally all-male Wellington Phoenix Academy but this time, Football Fern Michaela Robertson is the first female to join on a full-time basis.

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Phoenix does its bit to boost women’s football ahead of the 2023 World Cup. Source: 1 Sport

Phoenix Academy director Paul Temple praises her as a "fantastic person", settling in well.

"[She has an] amazing attitude, but from the talent point of view she fits in really well so that helps," he told 1 NEWS.

"The boys have taken to her and everything's working well. We've had previous Ferns - CJ Bott, Emma Rolsten, Rosie White - train with us in the past."

Robertson, who also works for the Ministry of Education, was part of the Future Ferns Domestic Programme (FFDP) in Auckland.

But with her job keeping her in Wellington, the commute became untenable. 

"I'd say they're both pretty equal, but trying to have energy level at the end of the day was definitely a challenge," she says.

Coming into a new environment, Robertson says she's already pushing to prove herself.

"They're doing me a big favour letting me train with the boys' academy. I don't want to take advantage at all, and just want to get stuck in and try reach the level the boys are setting." 

FFDP manager Gemma Lewis says Robertson is pushing for the Olympics, as well as the 2020 World Cup.

"She's trying to put herself in the best environment possible," she says.

"For us it's as long as Phoenix are someone we know can compete with what we provide in terms of sport science and facilities, access to high quality coaches. so we're really comfortable with Mickey going into that environment."

Robertson says she got stuck in right away.

"The guys are quick, fast, tall actually - wasn't expecting a group of young players to be so tall. So coming in the physical aspect it's been challenging."

But her attitude is more than making up for any height difference.

"If you can foot it with the players in the group then you get that instant respect, and she managed to do that straight away, so it's awesome and we're enjoying having her," Temple says. 

Beyond just helping Robertson's game, this opportunity also a taste of what lies in store for the Phoenix.

"We want to be a club that caters for male and female players," Temple says.

"We started really good convos with FFDP in Auckland, hopefully we can continue those. There may be some future players in the same space as Michaela that we can help with. 

"But we'll also be looking at creating our own full-time groups of some younger players and build that pathway through to the w-league team in future."