NFA footballer and coach Rachel Lloyd is 22 today – happy birthday!
Rachel has packed so much success into her short career to date, including three Welsh Cup wins, coaching in America, international recognition and playing five seasons in the Welsh Premier Women’s League.
She began playing at the age of four at the Prestatyn Athletic JFC Soccer School.
“I was always playing football with my older brother (Aaron) when I was younger and knew from then that I would want to continue with it and I have always loved it,” she told Grassroots North Wales in an interview back in 2016.
Rachel’s first team was Prestatyn Athletic under-eights and she joined Prestatyn Girls FC aged eight, playing many years on and off until finishing at 16.
At the age of nine, she signed for Liverpool Ladies Centre of Excellence, where she spent three years.
Rachel continued to play for Prestatyn High School, who she captained to two consecutive Welsh Cup victories.
At the age of 14 she was selected to attend national camps in Cardiff and later went on to play for Wales and represent her country at U16 level.
In 2014-15, Rachel was a member of the famous Prestatyn side which won the Under-16 Girls Welsh Cup, beating Coed Duon Dragons 4-0 in the final at Newtown, thanks to goals from Ashleigh Mills (2), Shannon Hobbs and Rebecca Bannister.
That Prestatyn team won every other trophy in sight that season. One of the coaches was Rachel’s dad Andy, who is now with her at NFA. Mum Jan also follows the football adventures of husband and daughter closely.
Centre midfielder Rachel adjusted to senior soccer in no time, being part of the Rhyl and Prestatyn Ladies team which entered the Welsh Premier Women’s League in 2014-15 and remained at that level for five seasons.
Rachel possesses many strengths to her game, including good vision and passing.
She has adjusted well to the physical demands of the game as she’s got older and also has an ability to score spectacular long range goals.
Although seeing herself as more of a creator than scorer, the two goals she scored in the 2014-15 Welsh Cup semi-final will always stand out in her memory.
One was a header from a corner which made it 1-0 and she doubled the lead after coming back on the pitch from an injury and running onto a perfect ball from captain Rebecca Bannister where she volleyed over the keeper from the edge of the box.
Understandably, her No 1 game is the 2014-15 Under-16 Girls Welsh Cup Final.
She recalled: “We managed to beat off tough teams from all over Wales and to win the final by 4-0 against Coed Duon Dragons was an amazing achievement for the whole team and the coaches.”
As for representative football, Rachel started playing at regional level aged 11 and progressed to the national squad at the age of 14 where she had the honour to be capped five times for Wales at under-16 level.
She travelled over to Belfast and played against the Home Nations and later on faced Finland.
As well as being a fine footballer, Rachel is also a gifted coach. She is doing great work bringing along the young players at NFA and last year spent the summer coaching in Chicago.
And on top of all that she is a much-loved, highly-respected and very popular person in football circles and beyond.
Have a great day Rachel.