Meet our magnificent seven on International Women’s Day

Carol Lewis – football inspiration for Amlwch Town and Ynys Môn. Picture: DAI SINCLAIR

On International Women’s Day, Grassroots North Wales highlights 7 of its female sporting heroes from North Wales

Katie Bowe (football)

Here comes another goal! Picture: CHRIS HOWELLS

There are so many great women footballers in North Wales, but Katie is a history-maker.

In 2015-16, her stunning long-range goal for Llandudno against Cardiff City in the Welsh Cup Final made her the first woman ever to be nominated for S4C Sgorio’s Goal of the Month award.

Katie’s wand of a left foot, providing endless goals and assists from set-pieces and open play, has made her a stand-out player over many seasons.

She is a player many youngsters look up to and try to emulate.

This season Katie has been part of a Pwllheli side punching above its weight in tier 2 Genero Adran North.

Despite having such a small squad, Pwll have given the likes of Swansea City and Cardiff City good tests in national cup ties, as well as claiming fine wins over the likes of Llandudno, Rhyl 1879 and Bethel.

Katie first made her senior breakthrough with Caernarfon Town and has since had major impacts at Llandudno, Mountain Rangers – where she scored seven goals on debut – and current side Pwllheli.

She has brought a headline-making, ‘superstar‘ element to North Wales women’s football.

Gwenan Môn Williams (netball)

Gwenan (back row – furthest left GK) with her current team Penygroes Primos

One of North Wales’ finest netball players.

She has represented Wales at top tournaments, including the Under-21 Netball Europe event in 2019.

Only injury prevented her competing in the Commonwealth Games.

Gwenan emerged through the Wales netball system over a number of years before gaining international recognition.

Hailing from Gaerwen, Ynys Môn, she is also a sports development officer with Urdd Gobaith Cymru, doing tremendous work nurturing the talent of tomorrow.

A massive rugby fan, she also creates opportunities for youngsters to participate in the game.

Gwenan is one of the best performers in the Gwynedd and Anglesey Netball League, where she represents a Penygroes Primos team pushing for the Division One title.

At 5 ft 11 but looking taller, she is equally effective as a Goal Keeper or Goal Attack.

A former Ysgol Gyfun Llangefni pupil and Physical Education and Sport student at Cardiff Metropolitan University, Gwenan doubles up as a great talent herself and a coach of future stars.

Rachel Warrenger (cricket)

Rachel Warrenger is a tremendous ambassador for women’s and girls cricket

Women’s and girls cricket in Wales is progressing at a fast rate of knots – and Rachel is a big part of it!

The Hawarden-based sportswoman is Women and Girls’ Cricket Development Officer North and Mid-Wales/Swyddog Datblygu Criced Fenywod a Merched (Gogledd Cymru/Canolbarth Cymru).

She started up the first-ever North Wales Women’s Cricket League last year, which was a tremendous success.

Growing up Rachel only had the opportunity to play in boys’ cricket teams as there weren’t many other girls playing in North Wales.

This is one of the reasons why she is so passionate about getting more girls involved in the game.

Rachel (back row – fourth left or right) lines up with 2021 champions Hawarden Park

Her role generally involves making the game more accessible to women and girls across the region.

Rachel is now the full-time women and girls’ officer having previously delivered Chance to Shine sessions in primary schools.

She is a former student of the University of Chester and Wrexham Glyndŵr University.

Rachel plays her cricket for Hawarden Park CC, where she has been the captain of the ladies’ team for the past 5 seasons. She led the team to the Cheshire Women’s Cricket League Division 3 West title in 2021.

Jess Kavanagh (rugby union)

Wales rugby union wing Jess Kavanagh

This 32-year-old rugby ace from Blaenau Ffestiniog is a battler in every sense of the word.

Last year saw Jess fight her way back into the Wales squad just 12 months after her career was threatened by an ACL knee injury,

Despite a number of setbacks, she managed to raise the money herself – helped by friends and supporters – to fund corrective surgery.

As a teenager, the current Sale Sharks left-wing was capped by Wales under-17’s at football. Jess looked set for a career in the round-ball game until her local rugby club, Bro Ffestiniog, formed a women’s team.

Jess began playing for Bro Under-15’s and after a few years, she was scouted by the Scarlets and was picked for Wales U-20’s.

In 2015, she was selected for Wales Sevens and represented Wales all over the world, in Russia, Dubai, France, and Japan.

This put her in front of the Wales 1st XV coaches and her hard work paid off.

She made her full international debut against Italy in the 2017 Six Nations and she has gone on to make 27 appearances in all, earning 19 caps.

Her club career also included spells at Dolgellau and Caernarfon, while she has also represented RGC.

Meinir Thomas (hockey/football)

Meinir Thomas excels at hockey and football

At the mature but more than sprightly age of 56, Meinir Thomas is still playing international sport!

The Llangefni-based fitness fanatic is a member of the Over-55 Wales women’s hockey squad.

She plays her club hockey for Bangor and previously represented Wales Over-50s in the Masters’ World Cup, European Championship and Home Nations.

Meinir only took up football at the age of 48, but has enjoyed plenty of success.

She was in the Amlwch Town squad which won their first-ever trophies – the Supplementary Cup in 2018-19 and the North Wales League Division Two title in 2019-20.

This season, Meinir, who is married to Kev and mum to Guto, Steffan, Aron and Sali Mali Mw, is helping Amlwch in their quest to win the North Wales League title.

The Anglesey club are currently second in the table and Meinir continues to get about the field as rapidly as players half, or even a third, of her age.

In Amlwch’s 1-1 draw at CPD Y Rhyl 1879 earlier this season, she was key in an amazing defensive effort from the island girls as they became the first team to take a point off their illustrious hosts this season.

Meinir is a phenomenal sportswoman and an inspiration to so many.

Carol Lewis (football)

Carol (right) celebrates an Amlwch goal in typically enthusiastic fashion. Picture: GETHIN JONES

I make no apologies for including two Amlwch Town figures in the same feature!

Last summer, Amlwch Town Ladies looked to be on the brink of folding after a number of players from their 2019-20 title-winning squad left the club.

The team could have done two things – fold or begin the difficult fight to rebuild.

Led by skipper Carol Lewis, Amlwch chose the latter.

And what an amazing effort it has been. Helped by a group of loyal players staying on, and recruiting some exciting new talent, Town are not only surviving, but thriving as they sit second in the North Wales Women’s League with just one loss all season.

Captain Carol typifies the Amlwch attitude. When I saw her play in the recent 1-1 draw against leaders Rhyl 1879, she looked twice the player I had ever seen before – and that version was already pretty good!

Her relentless, courageous defensive play drove on the team to an excellent result against the odds.

As well as sharing in Amlwch’s trophy successes of the last two seasons, Carol was also in the Ynys Môn women’s team which won the silver medal in the 2019 Inter-Island Games.

During March, Carol is running 100KM/62.2 miles in aid of Wales Air Ambulance Charitable Trust.
Please click on the following link to support her

https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/carol-lewis36?utm_source=facebook&utm_medium=fundraising&utm_content=carol-lewis36&utm_campaign=pfp-share&utm_term=871d5bb06a9649fdae1b2773b9bb30bb&fbclid=IwAR0ewLVaSd3w3xsuF3yVGkbOr6wmfQvWRnuIs8czyS1s52NJ_lRVjA90R3s

Carla Green (running)

Outstanding runner Carla Green

I do not know enough about the running world to have an opinion of who is the best female runner in North Wales.

However, I do know we have some exceptional talents and Carla Green of North Wales Road Runners is one of them.

The wife of top North Wales athlete Martin Green, who achieves special things all year round, Carla is a pretty accomplished performer herself.

One of her best days of the past 12 months or so came on the final August Bank Holiday of 2021.

Carla celebrated an amazing quadruple achievement at the Conwy Parkrun, which attracted a bumper attendance.

The dedicated athlete, who had only just unpacked her suitcase after arriving back from holiday, blitzed around the hard, sun-baked course, and was the first female finisher, recording a superb new parkrun PB of exactly 20 minutes in her 100th Conwy Parkrun – and she easily won her VW45-49 age category, finishing 21st overall.

Back in May 2021, Carla recorded a tremendous performance in the Run Aintree half-marathon, claiming a new personal best time and also winning her F45 age category award.

She was third female finisher amidst a high-quality field of nearly 500 mixed entrants and completed her run around a blustery racecourse route in just 1 hour 25 mins 52 seconds, confirming an amazing 5-minute PB.

There have been so many fine efforts from Carla over the years – possibly considerably better than what I’ve mentioned here – but I apologise for not knowing about them. What I do know is she is a remarkably consistent, high-placing runner.

Like many NWRRC members, Carla is also very active in fundraising for great causes. For many years, she and fellow member John Hatton have organised the Deganwy Dash, which will now be known as Rohan’s Run.

All proceeds from the race will be donated to CLIC Sargent and Ronald McDonald House, Cancer in Children charities.

The event has been renamed to both commemorate and celebrate the life of an extraordinary young man, Rohan Ingley, who tragically lost his long battle with leukaemia in August 2018, aged just 17. To enter please click below

https://secure.onreg.com/onreg2/front/step1.php?id=4754&fbclid=IwAR2NbJtQEYRMAFJmlGxJmR1OxRUgKOSLNIbHeW2pPubeVLOIZH0HZ4iMCX8

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