The 2019/20 season is a special one for the Welsh Premier Women’s League as they celebrate their 10th Anniversary. Formed in 2009, the League was formed of 8 clubs originally, one of them being Swansea City Ladies.
We caught up with manager, Ian Owen, who has been with Swansea City Ladies for 20 years to talk about his time in the league over the last 10 years, how the game has developed since the inaugural League match, and how passionate he is about the women's’ game.
O: Ian, having joined the League back in 2009, how did you think women’s football was perceived when Swansea City Ladies first joined?
I: During that time, the game was at a standstill and the introduction of the Welsh Premier Women’s League was long overdue. It was great because it enabled ambitious clubs the opportunity to grow as the game was very much regarded as recreational at the time.
O: So, 10 years later, how do you think the perception of women’s football has changed since 2009 compared to the present?
I: 10 years later, the profile of the women’s game has improved worldwide, with more professional Leagues forming. In Wales, we are still catching up but there is a handful of Welsh-based clubs now able to compete at a higher level with some gaining UEFA champions league experience. The support of the public is also growing with attendances at the Welsh Premier Women’s League games improving.
O: The support of the women’s game is improving, and your dedication to Swansea City Ladies is clear. The team must mean a lot to you having been their manager for the last 20 years?
I: I have thoroughly enjoyed my time with the club, through the good and the bad, but I am still excited with the progress we have made during that time and I'm looking forward to seeing how far we can go. Most of our players have been with us from a young age, and I have enjoyed helping them to develop into the players they are today.
O: What has been your most stand out memory of Swansea City Ladies over the last 10 years from the League?
I: There have been many, such as winning the Welsh Premier Women’s League, the UEFA Women’s Champion’s League and all the other team achievements but my standout memories are of developing young players and helping them to fulfil their ambitions.
O: What are your hopes for the future of the Welsh Premier Women’s League?
I: The League itself has been great for the women’s game in Wales, but they will need to take the next step soon. Funding and support from the FAW and sponsors such as yourselves, Orchard, are needed to continuously raise the profile of the league and the teams that support it is vitally important.
It’s clear to see how passionate Ian is about women’s football, and his dedication to Swansea City Ladies and the development of young players is nothing short of admirable.
Make sure you join the conversation on social media by using the hashtag #OrchardWPWL