A HIGHLY-RESPECTED football coach, and Wrexham Glyndŵr University lecturer, is eager to help boost the women’s game in North Wales as she takes on a new challenge.

Football and Coaching Science Lecturer Sara Hilton has been appointed manager of Connah’s Quay Nomads FC’s newly-formed women’s side.

Sara praised the club’s “forward-thinking” officials, who hope the new women’s team will build on the success of the men’s side, who are the current Welsh Cup holders and recently defeated Scottish Premier League outfit Kilmarnock in the Europa League.

She said: “It’s a great project to be involved in – it’s a blank canvas so it’s exciting to be able to build something from scratch.

“There are always challenges, just like in any role, but I think one thing that’s unique with this role is the full backing of the club – the club and the owner are hugely behind the project and really want it to succeed so I think their support should alleviate some of the challenges you usually face in the female game.”

Sara hopes to have a positive impact on senior women’s football in Wales and that the Nomads’ support might spur on other clubs to follow suit as the female game in general still faces issues with finance and prize money.

She said: “So much great work’s being done with younger players at youth level – you’ve got a clear pathway with the FAW Trust for girls up in the north and there’s some fantastic work being done with grassroots clubs as well so if I can try and make an impact from a senior perspective that would be really rewarding.”

The lifelong Liverpool fan played for as Manchester United Girls FC as a youngster and later spells with Tranmere Rovers, Caernarfon Town’s senior sides before an injury brought her playing days to an untimely end.

Sara started coaching in 2011 and began studying the BSc (Hons) Sport & Exercise Sciences course as a full time student in 2013 before achieving a Postgraduate Certificate in Continued Professional Development in 2017.

Her previously coaching roles includes stints in charge of the Wales U15 and U16 girls sides, a season at the helm of Crewe Alexandra Ladies FC and a spell on backroom staff at Cymru Alliance side Conwy Borough.

The role mark’s Sara’s return to the Nomads, where she previously coached the U13 side.

It is Sara’s first coaching role in women’s senior game in Wales and she held first open training session yesterday (Thursday, August 8), with another open session set to be held at the Quay 3G from 6-8pm on August 15.

The new side is set to play in North Wales Women’s League, although which of the two tiers they will enter has yet to be confirmed.

Although a lack of players been a challenge in Wales, Sara told how things are changing.

“It’s something that is growing; interest is growing with the success of the Women’s World Cup – I don’t think I’ve ever seen so many young girls kicking a ball on the street or in the park, which is great to see,” she said.

“I think there will be challenges but it’s something that I think everyone’s behind, especially in North Wales - it’s something that we’re really looking to build and it’s just trying to get the word out and get as many people as possible involved.”

Sara, who, said that her roles at Wrexham Glyndŵr University and the Nomads complement each other.

“I’ve had the opportunity now to speak to people who might want to explore careers paths in sport, who may be interesting in hearing about the football degree,” she said.

“In my role as a lecturer, the skills that I’ve learned in terms of communication will help me a lot.

“With my role at Glyndŵr you tend to effect twice as many people because you affect coaches who then in turn affect the players, but I’m really looking forward to getting back on a pitch and affecting players directly as well and that’s what I’m most excited about.”