Last summer, Sara Hilton was named manager of the new and ambitious Connah's Quay Nomads Ladies team.

The FAW Trust Coach Educator and Senior Lecturer of Football and Coaching Science at Wrexham Glyndwr University recently shared her thoughts with FC Cymru on her first season at the club and the future of the women's game in Wales.

Q. Connah's Quay Nomads clearly have an ambition to challenge at the top of the women's game in Wales, how exciting is it for you to be entrusted with leading this project?

A. Joining any new team is exciting. When the canvas is blank, and you have the freedom to build the team you want it's great. I've approached this club as I have all my others, with an open mind and clear goals and targets for both staff and players. It's a great opportunity to give back to the women's game here in north Wales and hopefully the Nomads will be challenging teams in the top tier in the coming years. I don't think anyone can argue that overall, we had a very positive first season, especially reaching the semi-finals of the FAW Women's Cup prior to lockdown. We came into the season with a lot of pressure on our shoulders and I truly believe we delivered what was expected.

Q. A restructure of the domestic women's game in Wales was recently announced. How exciting is this for an ambitious club like Nomads?

A. Of course, like a lot of other clubs, we welcome the change and hope it brings with it positive changes to the game across north Wales and the country as a whole. The club has made no secret of sharing their ambitions for the Nomads Ladies and this restructure definitely aligns with that ambition and vision for the future of the club. It's great to see the women's game making those huge strides. The biggest step forward in my opinion will be the introduction of the U19's development league. This will definitely bridge that gap between junior and senior football within the women's game.

Q. There are now FAW coaching courses designed specifically for the women's game. How much of a progressive step forward is this, and why?

A. The FAW, and particularly Nicola Anderson, Female Coach Education Coordinator, have worked tirelessly over the years to identify the potential barriers for female coaches and coaches within the female game. It's not about taking female coaches away from the regional courses; it's about providing them with an alternative platform to develop their coaching skills. I have been involved in the Football Leaders Awards, Female Game C Certificate, and the bespoke Female UEFA B Licence courses over the years. To see the quality of the coaches coming through, their natural ability and willingness to learn will only be a good thing for the women's game in Wales.

Q. Do you feel there are enough female candidates interested in pursuing coaching qualifications in Wales right now? From the experiences and challenges you have faced, what would be your advice to any women who are considering taking up coaching, but are unsure?

A. It's always tough as the pool of coaches is smaller than the men's game, so there may not be as many courses each season, but when the courses do run, they are very popular. Again, with all the work being done behind the scenes, the number of female coaches in Wales is definitely on the up. My advice to any women who are considering taking up coaching would be: DO IT! There is nothing more rewarding! We have a duty to show young girls that they can be successful in the game. The game has moved on so much over the past decade, but we need to keep pushing in the same trajectory to continue building the female game here in Wales.

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