Football: Wellington Phoenix women concede COVID-free status won't last forever

As COVID-19 runs rampant in the A-League, the Wellington Phoenix women's side has managed to keep the virus entirely out of their squad.

But it's taking its toll, with players based in Australia and their stay set to increase with games needing to be rescheduled.

That challenge is keeping COVID 19 out of the squad - and so far, they've been immaculate. 

Not one case has been recorded across the entire team, but there are fears that's about to change, with the team playing their first game outside New South Wales on Sunday.

"It's a big challenge," Coach Gemma Lewis says. 

"Now we are crossing borders, now we are going to Melbourne. We are at airports and travelling, we can't control what people are doing.

"This is where it starts to get high risk for us, whereas we've been able to be really controlled and it means we've had no cases and I don't know how long that's going to last to be honest." 

With an average age of just 20 in the squad, and forced to base themselves away from New Zealand, the season is becoming increasingly harder.

"We don't want it to get to a point where the league is getting pushed back and postponed," Lewis adds. 

"Because it just means these players are spending way longer away from home than expected. 

"We are in a situation where we've got 17-18-year-olds that are away from home. 

"We are already struggling with how we are going to get back into the country because the government doesn't seem to want to help us out there."

Adding to the players' difficulties, off the field there's little escape from football.

"No restaurants, no movies and nothing where you get any sort of balance. 

"It's not the funnest thing in the world, it puts pressure on the players as well, not really getting an outlet, not really getting a balance. 

"That's when the boredom starts to creep in and you start to miss home more."  

So while the Phoenix women is COVID free, the real question is for how long?

"It feels like it's inevitable at this moment, which is the thing that sucks," Lewis admits.

A brutal reality for a team already up against it.