Grace Morris will certainly be a name to remember in the future of the Orchard Welsh Premier Women's League, writes Geren Scapens.
Morris is a 17-year-old center-back who is currently plying her trade at Cyncoed Ladies and is beginning to make waves throughout the division.
However, reaching this stage in her career has not come without its obstacles - having played in boys teams from the age of six to the under 16 levels. During points in this time, Morris talks of how the family she had around her pushed her on in her current trajectory.
“My Dad was my coach and my brother, I’ve played in a team with him so you know I’ve always wanted to kind of be like my brother in a way so that really pushed me to keep going”.
Nationally is where things started to progress for Morris. In 2017, she was featured in her first ever age grade squad for the national team, as she played two full matches in the Home Nations development tournament held in St George's Park.
What followed was a period of success for Morris, as she continued to make the age grade setup for Wales, featuring in international friendlies against Scotland and Brittany, before her selection in the Bob Docherty Cup, cementing her place in the national setup.
After already earning five caps at U15 level, things started to ramp up fairly quickly for Morris as she helped Aberystwyth Ladies win promotion to the Orchard Welsh Premier Women's League, before moving on to Cyncoed.
However, the opportunities have cemented in Morris' mind that the WPWL is an ideal learning ground for young girls attempting to find their way in the game.
“Then I joined Aberystwyth Ladies, played with them for a season and helped get them to the Welsh Prem. Then, because I was going to college, I thought I may as well join Cyncoed up there for college and they train twice a week”.
“I’ve kind of faced any challenge and got over it quite well I’d say, so I wouldn’t really say I’ve faced too many challenges. I think the Welsh Prem setup is really good for young girls who have the potential to be playing with women…but with regards to challenges, I live down in West Wales, it was quite a distance away from Cyncoed obviously but I moved down there to make sure I could play for them and do college so I think I’ve just gone for it really”.
Whilst 2020 was full of ups and downs, with the backend of the 2019/20 season being curtailed due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, Morris is still content with her progress to date and believes the environment around her at the club is key in helping herself progress.
“Everyone around me has been so supportive and Cyncoed as well I feel like, I’ve been with them now and you know they're a great a bunch of girls and I feel like I’ve kind of developed as a more mature player as I'm only still 17. I feel like they are very welcoming and you know playing in the Welsh Prem it’s a really good challenge and I’ve learned a lot of things from it. So with regards to pushing and whats kept me going, I think just the people I’ve been surrounded by, and also I have known for a while what I want to achieve, so I’ve just kind of dug deep and gone for it really, but yeah, I'm still trying.”
But Morris still has grander ambitions for what she hopes to achieve in the future.
“I’d love to be able to be part of the senior team one day. And, you know, that'll be like a massive call-up as I play centre-back and I feel like maybe it's a bit of a difficult position to get into because you've got people that have been there a while. I'd love to kind of follow in their footsteps. But I'm off to America to Cumberland University on a scholarship. I’ll be leaving in August for that, so I’ll be playing for a team out there and hopefully, I'll do well there. The plan is to hopefully play for a pro team out there and get a contract or wherever, somewhere, God knows where I’ll end up. And then, if I'm good enough, then hopefully one day I’ll play for the seniors.”
Right now, the future seems bright for one of the budding young stars in the WPWL, who has already made a name for herself in the division, despite being just 17 years of age. This won't be the last we'll hear of Grace Morris, no doubt.