by Julie Kissick
IN A few hours time, Jayne Ludlow will take her place in the technical area ahead of her side’s ‘winner takes all’ clash with England.
Their final World Cup qualifier is not a ‘grudge match’, according to Ludlow, but it is one she and her team want to win.
Victory would see Wales qualify automatically for the 2019 World Cup in France, but more than that, it would seal a superb campaign.
Ludlow though, wants people to see beyond the gender of her national side and staff, and for the focus to be on appreciating the players for who they are and what they have done.
She is also keen to acknowledge the ‘massive’ importance of support in all areas of the football environment, from family and friends to fellow professionals.
Ludlow has made no secret of her desire to ‘grow the women’s game in Wales’ and there is clear evidence that this is happening – thanks in some part no doubt to the success of the national team.
Today the Football Association of Wales Trust announced a 17% annual rise in girls’ participation in football.
FAW Trust Head of Player Development, Caroline Spanton, said the success of the national side is vital to the growth of the game.
“Our international team are superb role models and have inspired a whole new generation of supporters with recent success.
“They are changing mindset of parents who are supportive of their daughters to play football which is critical for us as they are the decision makers.
“It’s a really positive time for girls’ football, participation is on the increase in our clubs, schools and through our informal Fun Football outlets.”
An open training session at Rodney Parade drew a decent crowd yesterday, many of them young girls keen to meet their heroes.
The FAW has also put on a family zone for those who were not able to get tickets to the sell-out match at Rodney Parade tonight.
The game is live on BBC Two Wales and on BBC Radio Wales. Kick-off is 19:45.
(Videos by Matthew Lofthouse)