Continuing the WPWL’s 10th Anniversary celebrations, we caught up with Michael Thomas, who was part of the original team who set up Cardiff City Women back in 2011.
O: So, Mike, how did the original idea of setting up Cardiff City FC Women come about?
M: My football mad daughter and several her teammates from a local junior club used to attend a Futsal/education course with the Cardiff City Foundation. The girls on the course asked the futsal coach if they could set up an 11-a-side team and he agreed. As I’d had previous experience running the junior team the girls had previously played for, the coach asked if I’d help with the admin side of running the team. So, along with one of the other girl’s mum’s help we started up the team.
O: How was women’s football perceived when Cardiff City Women first joined the Welsh Premier Women’s League back in 2009?
M: To be honest, I don’t think there was a lot of respect for female football in general back then. Even at my junior club we used to get sarcastic and sometimes sexist comments from some people even though we were comfortably the most successful team at the club, regularly winning trophies. Others were more supportive although comparisons were (and still are) are made with the men’s game - and not favourably.
O: How has the perception of women’s football improved since the first WPWL season in 2009 compared to now, ten years later?
M: There’s no comparison between then and now. So many more families are encouraging their daughters to play football and consequently a lot of junior clubs have sprung up - particularly in South Wales. There was always a problem attracting sponsors, but we now have several businesses supporting us for which we are very grateful.
O: What has been your most stand out memory of Cardiff City FC Women in the WPWL league over the last ten years?
M: That’s an easy one - winning the WPWL in the 2012/13 season and representing Wales in the UEFA Champions League.
O: What are your hopes for the future of the WPWL league?
M: For the WPWL to prosper, there needs to be considerable investment by the FAW and the clubs themselves. I think we have a very serious problem in North Wales as so many clubs have dropped out since the WPWL was formed and this must be dealt with or it’ll be a South Wales only league. Personally, that is something I hope doesn’t happen. My main hope is that we will have 10 or even 12 strong WPWL comprising clubs that are all financially secure, well-coached and providing more players for our national team.
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