The Orchard Welsh Premier Womens League (WPWL) has offered us a fair share of spectacular players over the last decade. With the next generation of players on their way through, we decided to delve into a handful of potential names for you to look out for, with some just breaking onto the scene right now, writes Jack Cleaver.
We caught up with three young stars rising through the ranks, starting with Cardiff City U19s academy player, Brooke Evans, who began her career with football at the age of 11, only being called up to the U19 squad this season. Evans told us how she was recently selected for the first team at the young age of 16:
“As soon as I got the message I was being selected for the first team, I was really chuffed especially after coming back from injury.”
“In training, everyone was really welcoming and for the game, everyone was really happy for me, I was nervous on the bench with butterflies but as soon as I was able to get on the pitch, I was in my own little bubble again.”
When asked, Evans spoke upon her goals for the future of her career:
“My next goal is to try and get my first Welsh cap, and more game time with the Cardiff City first team. In the future, I would love to pursue the career of football full-time.”
Now that Evans has started to play at the first-team level for Cardiff, she is a clear and obvious contender for the future of the game. Scott Davies, the U19s coach, expressed his thoughts on the benefits.
“As a coach, it is very encouraging and rewarding seeing one of our younger players getting game time with the first team.”
“One of the aims we have for the U19s squad is for them to be pushing for places in the first team, which Brooke has achieved.”
“I think it is very inspiring for other players coming through to see that there is a pathway to get into the first team and gaining vital experience minutes in the WPWL.”
Rivals Cardiff Met has young rising stars of their own. Firstly, looking at 18-year-old centre-back, Grace Corne, who has been vital to the squad for the past four seasons. Having started her career in football at the age of 11 for Barry, playing grassroots football for 4 years, she gained attraction from Cardiff Met.
“The summer I was turning 15 I got a call asking if I wanted to train with Cardiff Met, I am now halfway through into my fourth season, loving every minute.”
“The biggest challenge I’ve faced so far was joining Cardiff Met at a young age. It's always been a big women's club in Wales with extremely good, experienced players – this meant getting used to the physicality and tempo of the game which took some time adapting to.”
Corne hopes she can gather more minutes under her belt when the season continues, striving for the best outcome for her team “winning as many trophies as we can and helping the team hopefully win the league.”
Another bright name at Cardiff Met coming through the ranks is Emily Richards, a promising name in the midfield. At the age of 15, she was called up to train with Swansea Ladies, scoring on her debut at the age of 16, Richards has now become a key player for Cardiff Met.
“During my time at Cwmtawe Community School, I was part of a very successful team winning the Welsh Schools Cup. My PE teacher, Miss Ardolino, helped me greatly to develop as a player and a person.”
Richards has been such an inspiration to other players after suffering a fatal injury at the age of 12 which almost caused her to change career paths.
“I broke my tibia and fibula in 12 places, with 4 main fractures and smashing my growth plate in my ankle … after the surgery, I was told I would not be able to walk properly and that I was never going to be able to play football again. With the support of my family, physio, and a love for football I was able to fully recover and return back to playing a year later.”
Although this was a massive setback, Richards continues to become a rising star in the WPWL, “I have used this to fuel my ambition to play at the very highest level I can."
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