Winger Emily Jones is hoping a move to the FA Women’s Championship this season will boost her prospects of becoming a full Wales international.
However, the 18-year-old’s first target is to establish herself at Lewes, who she joined in July after four years at Everton.
She made her debut for the Rookettes as an 85th minute substitute in the recent 0-0 draw at Charlton and is thoroughly enjoying life at the East Sussex club.
“I’ve settled a lot quicker and easier than I thought,” said Emily, who was born in Wrexham, raised in Buckley and moved to Ellesmere Port briefly before signing for Lewes.
“It’s clicked for me straight away; I look forward to every training session and am learning something from each one.
“Everyone at the club has been so nice – the players, the staff, the directors. All you need to do is ask for help and they’re there for you.”
Emily was an unused substitute in Lewes’ opening game, an impressive 5-1 victory against Blackburn Rovers, before featuring in the scoreless encounter with Charlton.
A report on the game praised Emily’s impact, stating: “she flew straight into action, making a fine break after a Charlton attack had fizzled out.”
Helping the new girl settle in at her new club have been fellow Wales internationals Emma Jones and Rhian Cleverly.
Rookettes manager Fran Alonso was delighted to sign Emily this summer, saying: “I spotted Emily when I was involved in the Everton Ladies set-up and I’ve been keeping an eye on her ever since. My passion is to develop player’s footballing talent and help develop their whole character so that they become truly great players.
“Emily has tremendous potential and I believe we have the perfect club environment and coaching team to help her reach the top of the game.”
Lewes Football Club’s men are currently members of the Isthmian League Premier Division and, like the women, play at the charmingly-named Dripping Pan.
In 2017-18, the club launched Equality FC, with the aim of paying their men’s and women’s teams equal wages.
Before joining Lewes, Emily developed her talents at Super League club Everton, where she progressed through the centre of excellence to become a regular in the under-20s.
She said: “I enjoyed my time at Everton as I got to work under a lot of different coaches and I feel I grew as a person through the people I met and worked with.”
Emily has represented Wales at Under-15, U17 and U19 level and is one of a number of girls from the north to have stood out in those age groups.
Getting an opportunity for the senior side has proved not so easy for northern prospects, with only Everton’s Elise Hughes featuring in Jayne Ludlow’s squads in recent times.
Emily holds strong ambitions to make the full Wales side, but has more immediate targets.
“I do sometimes think about Wales, but in the short-term my aim is to establish myself at Lewes – I need to be playing regularly.”
Emily believes Wales is growing in strength as a nation on the women’s football scene.
She said: “Starting off the Euro qualifiers with a 6-0 win in the Faroe Islands was great, but I think Wales are getting better not just through the seniors, but in the age groups too.
“We’ve done well in the Bob Docherty Cup (under-15s) and are qualifying for more Elite rounds. There’s lot of younger players making their debuts (for the seniors) too.
“I’ve got so much respect for Jayne Ludlow; she’s got responsibility not just for the senior side but the age groups too and she tackles everything with such passion.”
Football has always been part of Emily’s life. She used to regularly watch her dad Shaun play, as well as uncle Kevin, who represented both Wrexham and Bangor City in Europe.
Shaun began his football days with Penyffordd JFC before trialling at Crewe Alexandra, Manchester United, Everton and Wrexham, all before the age of 16. He later turned out for Gresford, Cefn Druids and Lex in the Cymru Alliance, as well as Mold Alex and Flint Town United in the League of Wales.
Shaun also played a few games for Penyffordd seniors and managed them for a season.
“It was through watching my dad play that I really got interested in football and he’s always been there supporting me,” added Emily, whose first team was Northop Hall Girls.
Lewes are home to Crystal Palace in the tier-two FA Women’s Championship this Sunday and no doubt Emily will be hoping to get more minutes under her belt.