Alyssa Whinham making sure she’s never just an after thought again

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Alyssa Whinham was left devastated when she didn’t originally make the Wellington Phoenix squad. But after being thrown a last-minute lifeline, the 18-year-old has used her devastation as motivation.

At first, Alyssa Whinham didn’t expect to be considered for the Wellington Phoenix when it was first announced that the club would enter its very first team into the A-League Women competition.

However, as fellow Canterbury United teammates and players with her level of experience started to be named in the squad, the midfielder began to believe that she would get the call up as well.

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Unfortunately for Whinham, the official call never came. In fact, she was originally told by Phoenix coach Gemma Lewis that she hadn’t made the cut. 

Just as she lost hope of playing her first year of professional football, Whinham was suddenly given one last chance when it was announced that Wellington could sign two more New Zealand players on scholarship contracts.

And although the attacking midfielder was extremely pleased that she was one of those last lucky players, this hasn’t stopped Whinham from playing with a chip on her shoulder this season.

Not only did she miss out on the original squad, but no other A-League side chose to sign her when she was originally left available, despite coach Lewis recommending her to other coaches in the league.

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But over halfway through her debut season, it is safe to say that if there was a do-over, Whinham wouldn’t be left until the last pick a second time around. The massive setback the young midfielder faced early on has only driven her to work harder in order to stand out from the crowd.

And stand out she has.

After some stellar performances on the pitch, the Kiwi playmaker was named the young women’s footballer of the month for January in the A-League Women competition. No small feat for a once teamless player. 

During a recent interview, Whinham explained why she has managed to excel, despite the difficult and unique circumstances she has faced. 

“I think I’ve defiantly had a special journey compared to the other girls in the squad,” Whinham said.

“I was devastated when I didn’t make the team initially, so when I got the chance, I wanted to prove that I should have been here from the start and in doing so, make a name for myself.”

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Whinham explained that even when she was offered a last-second chance to join the squad, she was expecting much game time because she was only on a scholarship contract. However, she knew that if her opportunity did come during the season, she wasn’t going to stuff it up.

“At first I told myself to just push and get on the bench so then maybe I might get some 10-minute opportunities to show what I’ve got.”

“But I also tried to be different from everyone else in training and I think that is why I got my first start, because I was trying so hard to stand-out.”

As a dynamic midfielder, Whinham also suggests that she offers something no one else does on her team – pure creativity. The teenager also loves to embrace her unique style of play and this is a big reason why she has found such success this season. 

“I’ve always been told that I’m a different sort of player,” said Whinham. 

“Because I have always been overlooked due to my size, I focus on being as creative as possible on the pitch, while always telling myself to never stop what I’m good at.”  

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Being considered ‘too small’ is just another obstacle Whinham has overcome during her football career. Her personal motto is “be too good so they have to pick you,” and it seems to be working well so far. 

Thanks to her motivated mindset and football ability, In just five short months Whinham has gone from an afterthought to Wellingtons greatest asset on attack. 

At just 18 years of age, it seems that the sky is the limit for this creative midfielder. As well as being Wellington’s key playmaker, she has also shown her goal-scoring ability, scoring a fantastic goal against Brisbane. 

Right now, Whinham is far too good for any team in the league not to pick her, as her star continues to rise with every obstacle she overcomes. 

Feature image credit: Wellington Phoenix 

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Harry Bartle
Harry is a young Journalist based in Wellington. He will be covering the Wellington Phoenix during the 2021/22 season for the Football Sack and has a love hate relationship with Ulises Davila

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