The fact she has been chosen for so many fellow players’ North Wales Dream Teams this year speaks volumes about how highly Mari Gibbard is regarded.
Today sees this proven goalscorer celebrate her 24th birthday.
Born on February 23, 1997, Mari hails from a football family, with dad Aled a well-known juniors manager and elder sister Gwenno the captain of CPD Merched Bethel.
Mari started playing football at about six, around the same age as Gwenno. She remembers always kicking a ball in the garden with her sister from very early in life.
Mari’s first team was Llewod Llanrug. She started out playing for the boys team in the under 7 age group and carried on representing them through to under 12’s.
The team won several tournaments as well as the area league and cup many times.
Mari’s first game for a girls team was in an under 11 tournament aged eight. Dad Aled started an under 12 girls team in Llanrug and Mari played for them through to under 16.
Mari’s youth football career was outstanding. One of her best matches was the final of the Welsh Schools Cup with Ysgol Brynrefail.
The game was played on TNS’s pitch in Oswestry and the Llanrug secondary won 11-1 with Mari netting a hat-trick.
Another memorable match was beating Manchester City in the semi final of a large girls tournament in Skelmersdale. Mari’s team lost the final on penalties to Skem Athletic, who had several players from the Liverpool academy in their squad.
Mari’s strengths include her ability to use both left and right foot equally well and a penchant to see a killer pass as well as scoring many goals, some of them spectacular.
She has also been a success with the Bangor University side which won the BUCS League in 2015-16. The squad included several players who went on to shine in North Wales senior football.
After a couple of seasons representing Bethel in the North Wales League, Mari signed for Welsh Premier club Llandudno in February 2018.
She was soon making an impact, scoring twice in a 3-0 win over coastal rivals Rhyl.
Mari had a very impressive 2018-19 season with Tudno, finishing top scorer with 15 goals in all competitions, including six in a Welsh Cup tie.
Two of her goals at Cardiff City were surely among the best a Llandudno player has ever scored – 45-yard screamer and a magnificent chip on the run over the advancing keeper. Rightfully, she won a host of end-of-season club awards.
In recent times Mari has been studying in America, where she has also taken the opportunity to develop her playing and coaching skills.
She rejoined Bethel at the back end of last season.
Penblwydd hapus Mari – chwaraewr arbennig iawn.