The new Orchard Welsh Premier Women's League season kicks-off this weekend with champions Swansea City heading to the capital on Sunday to take on Cardiff City live on S4C (4pm).
The announcement marks another important milestone in the history of the national league as it will be the first women's domestic match in Wales to be televised live. Swansea City regained the league title last season, and while manager Colin Staples and his side can now look forward to competing in the UEFA Women's Champions League in November, the focus right now will be on making a strong start to defending their title.
“You can see the way that the women’s game is growing,” said captain Alicia Powe to the official Swansea City website. “It has changed so much while I have been playing. Coming off the back of winning the title, the girls have worked hard in pre-season, we have strengthened our squad and added a variety of different players to the mix. We are all really excited for the start of the Welsh Premier Women's League and the upcoming Champions League ties.”
Lauryn Lyons, Laura Davies, Kelsey Thomas, Chloe Tiley, Emily Roberts and the returning Jemma Parfitt are amongst the new additions at Swansea City for the new season, while experienced coach Colin Staples has also been recruited. Meanwhile, Cardiff City will be looking to build on their third place finish last season, and have strengthened their squad with the arrivals of Sydney Tiiman, Phoebie Poole, Claire Skinner and Charlotte Hastings.
“We are extremely happy that we were able to keep the majority of our 2019/20 squad together,” said manager Iain Derbyshire to the club website. “All of the signings that we have made are fantastic footballers, and I am very excited to see them pull on the Cardiff City shirt this coming season. I feel that we have strengthened key areas on the pitch, defensively and offensively, whilst also adding a blend of youth into our squad.”
Three other Orchard WPWL fixtures take place on Sunday to mark the start of the new domestic season, although all fixtures will take place behind closed doors. Port Talbot Town start their campaign at home to Aberystwyth Town (2pm), and captain Chelsey Harris this week spoke about the ambitions of the Victoria Road club. “It's really important to get off to a good start,” she explained. “We want to improve on our performance last season with the right commitment and attitude. Hopefully we can reach a cup final and break into the top three.”
Abergavenny welcome newly-promoted Cascade YC to the Pen-y-Pound Stadium (2pm), a team they defeated 6-4 in a friendly earlier this month. “We've worked hard through pre-season,” said Abergavenny manager Craig Morgan-Hill. “We're really looking forward to getting the season started and hopefully with a win.” Holly Hughes and former Cymru U19 international Daisy Evan-Watkins are amongst the new additions at Cascade YC for their first season in the domestic top-flight.
The opening weekend is completed by former champions Cardiff Met making the short journey to Cyncoed (2pm). The Archers are again expected to be the main challengers to Swansea City this season and have announced a string of new signings this week to make their intentions clear. Meanwhile, Josh Richards has replaced Fern Burrage as the Head Coach at Cyncoed having assisted her last season. Burrage will remain at the club as the Director of Football but has decided to take some time out due to family commitments.
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