Football Ferns great Annalie Longo hopes securing co-hosting rights to the FIFA Women's World Cup will be the catalyst for a much-needed professional team in New Zealand.
Having won the right to stage the 2023 showpiece with Australia, Longo believes Kiwi administrators must make it a priority to establish a first professional pathway in the Oceania confederation.
Longo expects interest levels in soccer among girls and young women to spike over the next three years and was heartened Wellington Phoenix are making loud noises about injecting a team in Australia's W-League.
The Melbourne Victory attacking midfielder said the Phoenix would be a "perfect fit".
"That's the next step for us, some kind of professional team and whether that's something NZ Football creates or Wellington Phoenix," Longo told AAP.
"It might even bring some Football Ferns home if they have the chance to play in New Zealand.
"Now the World Cup is coming, I'm sure it will be talked about a lot."
A veteran of the last four World Cups, Longo's career has spanned a period of steep growth for the sport internationally.
It has been the same curve in New Zealand, which she believes was sparked by its staging of the 2008 under-17 women's World Cup - which she played in.
The country confirmed it can host major FIFA events when the under-20 men's World Cup went off without a hitch five years ago.
Auckland's Eden Park will host the 2023 opening match and Longo believed New Zealand had proved it will lose nothing next to Australia in terms of fanatical interest and quality facilities.
The tournament will cap a three-year New Zealand run of hosting global women's sporting events.
World Cups in cricket and rugby are scheduled for 2021 while the World Conference on Women & Sport will be held in Auckland the following year.
Australian Associated Press