Football: NZ defender CJ Bott excited over NZ W-League team, 2023 World Cup bids

Football Ferns defender CJ Bott is excited at the prospect of Wellington Phoenix promoting a professional NZ-based women's team into the Australian W-League.

Phoenix general manager David Dome has developed plans for a women's side for nearly three years and talks were progressing well before the coronavirus pandemic hit. 

Dome is trying to secure W-League inclusion for 2021, giving the team two years before the 2023 World Cup, which has a strong chance of being co-hosted by Australia and New Zealand.

Regardless of the tournament taking place downunder, Dome says New Zealand must have a professional women's team and if that happens, Bott wants to be part of it.

"I think it would be the most incredible thing," she tells Newshub from her Norway base. 

"The W-League is such a good league and everyone wants to play in it, so to have a team in Wellington, all of us would be fighting to be in the team. 

"It is always a huge barrier with everyone playing in different countries around the world, so if some of us could be training and playing together regularly, that would be beneficial."

With no professional team in New Zealand, the Kiwi women are scattered all around the world. The 24 players that represented the Football Ferns at the Algarve Cup earlier this year play their trade across nine different countries, including the US, Germany and Norway. 

Along with the prospect of a women's pro team, Bott is also upbeat about playing in a World Cup on home soil. 

A FIFA bid evaluation report for the 2023 Women's World Cup ranked New Zealand and Australia ahead of rivals Japan and Colombia. 

The trans-Tasman effort scored an average of 4.1 out of five, with Japan tallying 3.9 and Colombia 2.8. The world football body will announce the winning bid on June 25. 

"It is something you wouldn't dream of, because the chances of having a World Cup in your home nation are almost unheard of," Bott adds. 

"It's exciting, and would be incredible for women's football and football in general. 

The Football Ferns have players scattered around the world.
The Football Ferns have players scattered around the world. Photo credit: Photosport

"New Zealand and Australia are both awesome places, and the football is well-supported, but there are also some incredible bids and now we're strong contenders, so it's super exciting."

Bott had a rough start to her "nightmare" 2020 campaign, due to injury and coronavirus lockdown. 

The 25-year-old signed with Norwegian club Vålerenga Fotball Damer earlier this year, but hasn't represented her new club, due to knee surgery (meniscus), with Norway's strict lockdown protocols making rehab challenging.  

The Scandinavian country has 220 active COVID-19 cases and while the Norwegian Health Minister insists the virus is "under control", 'Black Lives Matter' protests have sparked fears of a second wave. 

Nevertheless, the Toppserien - Norway's top professional women's league - is scheduled to begin next month. 

"The only thing not to open up is the gyms," says Bott. "Everything is pretty much back to normal, but they're still encouraging social distancing, because the numbers are not quite as good as New Zealand. 

"I considered coming home, but here is the best place I can be [with my injury]. I've got an amazing team and support system here.

"Our season starts on July 4, so we started contact training two weeks ago. We are allowed no contact with anyone outside of the team and there are daily medical checks, so it's very controlled. 

"I'll be out for at least another three months, but there is lots of uncertainty with a meniscus injury, so it's a wait-and-see process."