Jayne Ludlow: Wales players inspiring youngsters, says manager

By Aled WilliamsBBC Sport Wales
'You're 31??' Wales boss Ludlow helps Harding celebrate her birthday
Women's international friendly: Wales v Estonia
Venue: Racecourse, Wrexham Date: Fri, 6 March Kick-off: 19:00 GMT
Coverage: Live video on the BBC Sport website and BBC Sport app plus live commentary on BBC Radio Wales, website and app

Wales manager Jayne Ludlow says the national side are inspiring a new generation to take up the game.

A record 8,600 women and girls are now signed up to football clubs in Wales, up 50% since 2016.

Ludlow's side came close to qualifying for the 2019 World Cup in France.

"The girls in the senior group, what they've particularly done well I believe is inspiring people to want to be involved," Ludlow said.

"Because I think people do enjoy going through this journey."

Wales face Estonia at Wrexham's Racecourse Stadium on Friday in what could be a record crowd for a women's international friendly.

Ludlow, a former Arsenal midfielder, is encouraged by the increased interest in the women's game in Wales.

"I think the girls have had a massive input in a sense of the relative success they've achieved over the last few years," Ludlow added.

"It's about the good work the players are doing on and off the pitch but also the good work of the staff who are involved with our association.

"And obviously there's the clubs and their coaching staff and the parents."

Friday's game against Estonia, managed by Ludlow's predecessor Jarmo Matikainen, is a warm-up for two Euro 2021 qualifiers in April.

Wales are currently second in their qualifying group with home games in April against the Faroe Islands and leaders Norway.

"We're in the middle of the campaign and we're unbeaten, that's a huge positive to where we might have been in the past," Ludlow said.