Striker Helen Ward is the all-time leading goalscorer in the history of the Cymru women's national team, and the 34-year old is showing no signs of slowing down as she continues to be a key part of Jayne Ludlow's squad.

Ward started both games in the recent EURO 2022 qualifiers against the Faroe Islands and Norway, and scored her 43rd international goal in the 4-0 victory in the opening game of the double-header. Currently also leading the front line for Watford, like many women Ward balances a young family with her professional life, but it obviously brings with it unique physical challenges.

Ward gave birth to her second child in 2017, but was back with the Cymru squad for the trip to Russia in FIFA Women's World Cup qualifying less than seven weeks later. “Childbirth is a major trauma to the body,” explained Ward in an interview with WalesOnline at the time. “You have to be careful during pregnancy. I kept fit up to a month before I had him. I learned a lot from my first pregnancy, it’s natural to be worried so I stopped doing exercises. This time my aim was to speed up the process as safely as possible. I went to the gym and made sure I spoke to the right people and get the right advice. You have to be so careful after birth and you can’t do too much too soon. Sit ups and anything that pushes your abs outwards is a no-go during pregnancy and straight afterwards. But listen to your body, and know when too much is too much.”

Although she is now very much the veteran of the squad, Ward remains determined to reach the finals of a major tournament with Cymru before she retires. Her initial plan was to call it a day after EURO 2021 should Ludlow's side finally achieve their aim, but the pandemic has delayed the tournament by a further year. Qualification is still possible for Cymru despite their recent defeat to Norway last month, and Ward remains committed to seeing the campaign through have devoted so much to representing her country over the last 12 years.

“Wales is the only reason I still play,” said Ward to FAW.cymru in 2017. “A lot of people ask me about international football and what it's like. If it wasn't for playing for Wales, I probably would have retired after having my baby girl. But my goal was always to return to international football, and if for whatever reason that didn't happen, I probably wouldn't be playing football at all now. I hope that shows the passion and commitment that I have. Playing for your country should be the pinnacle of anyone's career, and I'm no different. My aim in football is to do everything that I can for Wales.”


Rodney Parade, Newport has been confirmed as the venue for Cymru’s final UEFA Women’s EURO 2022 Qualifying Round match. Jayne Ludlow’s side will face Belarus on Tuesday 1 December (KO 19:10), with the match televised live on BBC Two Wales.

Cymru currently sit second in the group following a 4-0 win against the Faroe Islands and a 1-0 loss against group leaders Norway last month. Ludlow’s side can qualify for a play-off spot for the first time providing Northern Ireland fail to beat Belarus on Friday, 27 November. The nine group winners and the three best runners-up (not counting results against the sixth-placed team) qualify directly for the final tournament, while the remaining six runners-up advance to the play-offs.

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