As the Welsh Premier Women’s League continues to celebrate its 10th anniversary season, we caught up with Hayley Williams, Team Manager and Head Coach, who has been with Port Talbot Ladies FC, in some capacity, since 2012.
O: What is your role at Port Talbot Ladies FC and how long have you been with the club?
H: I am currently the manager/head coach and have been since January 2018. I've previously been involved with the club since its inception in 2012. Prior to 2012, Port Talbot Ladies FC was previously called Trefelin BGC and I was also a founder player when that team started. When we (as Trefelin) joined the WPWL it was split into a North and South division before its current format as a national league. We changed our name and playing venue to align with the WPWL’s ground regulations and have been Port Talbot ever since. I stopped playing at the end of the 2015/16 season due to a health condition, so I took up the role of helping our secretary with the day to day running of the club. When we had a new coach appointed in August 2016, I assisted him until Nov 2017 when our manager left. I then stepped up to temporary manager, until I was made permanent, in January 2018.
O: How do you think women’s football was perceived when you first got involved in women’s football?
H: I have been playing women’s football since the age of 15. At this stage, football was very much perceived as a “man’s sport” with not many opportunities for women to play in Wales.
O: Do you think perceptions have changed from then, compared to the present?
H: Yes, perceptions have changed since 2005 but I think there’s still a long way to go. Even though football is still, in my opinion, perceived as a “man’s sport” by the majority, the coverage of the Women’s world cup and female footballers becoming more visible on TV has helped make the sport become more accepted.
O: What has been your most stand-out memory with Port Talbot Ladies FC?
H: This must be winning the inaugural ‘WPWL Women of the year’ at the 2018/19 league awards. This was a great honour and a testament to how well the girls played last season. It was my first full season in charge, and we achieved the highest ever league position of 4th. I truly believe the results and success of last season were not just due to the performances on the field, but also to the magnificent team spirit and togetherness we all have within the club off the field. We are a very close-knit group, like a big family!
O: What are your hopes for the future of the WPWL league?
H: I personally would like to see the league expand to 12 teams so there is more variation in the teams we play. I would also like to see more financial support for the clubs who are not attached to Universities or Professional organisations to create a level playing field in terms of resources. Finally, I hope the league continues to develop in terms of playing standard and starts to produce more Welsh international players.
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