by Julie Kissick
TWO years ago a Wales football team dared to dream as they journeyed through France all the way to the Euro semi-finals.
Their rallying cry was ‘Don’t Take Me Home’.
Tonight, another Wales football team is hoping that home advantage will help them secure a trip to France for the FIFA Women’s World Cup.
Same sport. Different gender. Same destination. Different tournament.
Again, the hopes and dreams of a nation rest on eleven players with a dragon on their chest.
Chris Coleman’s men returned from Dinard as heroes. Jayne Ludlow’s women step out onto the pitch at Rodney Parade in Newport having already achieved cult status.
They have demonstrated throughout this campaign what pride and passion they have in wearing the red shirt.
They are true ambassadors, and they have achieved it by showing the kind of grit and determination that has lead to them topping their group as they go into this crucial game.
But there is another element to this squad – their feet are firmly on the ground.
That comes as no surprise to anyone who has ever seen or read an interview with the gaffer. Ludlow is composure personified.
She is the manager of the senior team, but her remit stretches far wider than that. She is involved with every squad as well as a whole range of what she calls ‘projects’ connected with developing women’s football in Wales.
The scope is huge, the task likewise, but the focus tonight is in putting on a display which demonstrates just how impressive the growth has been so far.
The rise to prominence has not happened by chance. It has been strategically planned and executed and no-one should underestimate what she and her backroom team have achieved to date.
Whatever happens tonight, this campaign has been a success. This group of players and their coaches have inspired a generation.
They have changed perceptions. They have proved that with hard work, teamwork and self-belief, anything is possible.
They have already made us loud, proud and united.
They are the epitome of #TogetherStronger
— FA WALES (@FAWales) 30 August 2018