Welsh Premier Women's League needs more teams - Hayley Williams

Port Talbot Town Ladies finished fourth in the Welsh Premier Women's League last season
Port Talbot Town Ladies finished fourth in the Welsh Premier Women's League last season

Port Talbot Town Ladies head coach Hayley Williams believes there are not enough teams in the Welsh Premier Women's League.

Currently there are nine sides in the league after north Wales side Rhyl Ladies FC were forced to resign because of a lack of players.

"I do think the league needs more teams than nine," Williams said.

"A national league should have a minimum of 10 teams, 12 even in my opinion, so it's disappointing."

The top eight leagues in England have 11 or 12 teams.

Promotion to the Welsh national league relies on two factors: winning a second-tier regional league and passing ground criteria.

Last season Caernarfon Town Ladies were also forced to resign five games into the season due to a lack of resources.

The Football Association of Wales says it is looking into making changes within the league.

"A full review of the league and women's domestic football is currently taking place," confirmed the FAW deputy head of communications, Rob Dowling.

A north-south divide

This year marks the 10th anniversary of the WPWL, with the season kicking-off on 8 September when Port Talbot host Cyncoed.

With eight teams from south Wales and only one from the north, there is a lopsided look to women's club football in Wales.

"There is a much bigger pool of players down south than there is up north in terms of talent and ability," Williams told BBC Sport Wales.

"That's probably got a lot to do with the new colleges that are out there with their schemes.

"They tend to feed the players into the Welsh Premier clubs, which is good, but it's obviously difficult in the north because there is not the same push up there so Llandudno and Rhyl are always up against it."

With no north Walian teams joining the league this season it is clear that the majority of women's football is played in the south.

Port Talbot Town Ladies finished fourth last season and Williams hopes her side can improve on that this term, but admits budgetary restrictions make that difficult.

"I'm not going to push for top three because looking at the resources that the other teams have got we shouldn't be anywhere near them, but it's a credit to the girls that we are," she said.

"We didn't do very well in the cup last year so our target for this season will be top four and [reaching the] semi-finals of the League Cup.

"They're quite realistic goals and we've signed a few extra players, so we're looking sharp."

Alongside being a coach Williams works in schools, so she has seen first-hand the growing interest in woman's football and the effect the Women's World Cup has had.

"It's definitely had an impact on the younger generation," she said.

"It's good to see the Welsh and English girls in adverts on the TV so their quality is shining through and having pundits like Alex Scott and Sue Smith have helped boost the profile of the female game."

BBC Sport has launched #ChangeTheGame this summer to showcase female athletes in a way they never have been before. Through more live women's sport available to watch across the BBC this summer, complemented by our journalism, we are aiming to turn up the volume on women's sport and alter perceptions. Find out more here.

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