By Richard Early
THE Football Association of Wales will support clubs more to help make the major restructuring of female football for the 2021/22 season successful, says Head of Women’s and Girls’ Football.
It was announced on Thursday, May 14th that Tier 1 will be renamed the ‘National League’, while Tier 2 will be split into ‘Regional League North’ and ‘Regional League South’.
The license application process for Tier 1 and Tier 2 will be open to all clubs, but having an U19 side is mandatory to qualify for the topflight.
Many praised the news on Twitter, while others criticised it.
Looking forward to seeing this unfold. An exciting development for both players and coaches! https://t.co/8dKrwcyW8L
— Kerry Harris (@harris_kerry) May 14, 2020
I don’t know what to say 😂 A tough task for whoever’s in charge of getting this off the ground 🤞🤯 how some clubs are going to get a U19 team in 1 year is outrageous!? https://t.co/88oaWy9GJZ
— Richie Jeremiah (@richie_jeremiah) May 14, 2020
Llandudno Ladies and Rhyl Ladies withdrew from the Welsh Premier Women’s League during the 2019/20 season due to issues with retaining and recruiting players.
They followed Caernarfon Town Ladies’ resignation from the topflight the season previous, which was down to a lack of resources.
Lowri Roberts, who is Head of Women’s and Girls’ Football at the FAW, insists they will be more supportive of clubs to achieve objectives.
“We [FAW] are committed to providing more support for our clubs in order for us to achieve our aims around increasing participation numbers and strengthening the National League,” said Roberts. “We are currently finalising our club development plans to be implemented in the 2021/22 season and will be sharing these in due course.
“The number one priority for the National League is for it to be a competitive and sustainable league.
“With it being an open licence application for the 2021/22 season, we will be able to ensure that we only allow clubs who meet set criteria into the league, and that we only expand and grow the league as and when it is right to do so.
“Clubs have a year now to prepare for the changes and we will be communicating the licence criteria and application process over the coming months.”
Former Wales captain Professor Laura McAllister believes the stronger strategy will improve sustainability and the level of competition of female football in Wales.
“All clubs need to be sustainable and this requires youth structures within,” Professor McAllister added. “Overall, this means a different structure with different options and routes for players at every level.
“I agree with the U19 focus as we know we are losing girls twice in the game – once at age 11 on transition to secondary school and again at 16 when they leave junior football for the senior game which doesn’t suit every player.
“Hopefully, this will further professionalise club structures and help develop longer term business cases as part of the club licensing programme.
“I believe the changes have been well received and most clubs in the WPWL are naturally ambitious and all recognise that they need to become more sustainable to help improve the level of competition.”