Football: Northern Lights' Gemma Lewis blazing trail for female coaches in National Women's League

In the wake of Andreas Heraf's troubled time in charge of the Football Ferns, there were calls for a female to lead the New Zealand side.

That candidate may come from the National Women's League that kicks off this weekend, which will feature a record four female head coaches.

One of those is the Northern Lights' Gemma Lewis, who already has her sights set at the top.

"I want to get into a national team as a head coach as well," Lewis told Newshub.

She's certainly on the right track.

On top of her role at the Northern Lights, is Lewis is also the assistant coach for the New Zealand U17 and U20 sides, blazing a trail for others to follow.

"Now that they're seeing that there are role models in the way there's four coaches at national women's league level, it's now becoming an achievable and attainable career for a female."

Along with four head coaches there's at least one female on the coaching staff in each of the seven teams, as per a FIFA policy adopted by New Zealand Football.

"I think it's awesome. I've never been in a team like it," said player Jane Barnett.

Heraf's troubled time in charge of the Football Ferns highlighted the challenges men can face when in charge of a women's team.

"I don't think it's a blanket rule, but I do think you kind of have a bit of a head start in terms of building relationships," Lewis added.

"When you're a female coaching females, I think you have a slight advantage with the understanding."

The Football Ferns haven't had a female coach in over a decade.

If that's to change, the next will likely come from this year's new-look league, which has now doubled from one round to two.

"It's going to be exciting for the girls, it's going to be exciting for the coaches and more of a challenge so I'm excited to see what happens.

Twice the game time for the new wave of coaches to hone their craft