Natalie Lawrence to replace Gemma Lewis as Wellington Phoenix coach

Gemma Lewis had been reappointed coach of the Wellington Phoenix A-League Women team in May.

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Gemma Lewis had been reappointed coach of the Wellington Phoenix A-League Women team in May.

Wellington Phoenix have been forced to make a coaching change less than 10 weeks out from the start of the A-League Women season following the shock departure of Gemma Lewis.

The former Wales international is returning home to take up a development role with the Wales Football Association, but the Phoenix have moved quickly to replace her by promoting Lewis’s assistant Natalie Lawrence.

With 13 of the likely 18 fully contracted players already announced, Lawrence’s promotion should minimize the disruption Lewis’s departure would have otherwise created.

Lawrence also served as Lewis’s right-hand woman during New Zealand’s Under-20 Women’s World Cup campaign.

“It’s an amazing opportunity to take charge of the Phoenix and one that I can’t wait to start,” Lawrence said.

“Having been part of the team last year and seeing them grow, to now be able to bring the team back to New Zealand and play games in Wellington, which I definitely consider to be my Kiwi home, is incredibly exciting.

“Gemma will be massively missed amongst the staff and the players, and we’ll try and do her proud this season. But we’re really excited for what she’s going to be doing in Wales. “

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