Wales striker Helen Ward is aiming for a swift to return to her footballing career after announcing she was pregnant with her 2nd child this year.
“My primary aim is to return to playing as soon as possible after baby number 2 and to play at as high level as I can. Beyond that, I would love nothing more than to go to a major international tournament with Wales.”
It was at Wales, where Ward has had a number of notable achievements including making her 50th appearance for her country, whilst also becoming the Welsh all-time top goal scorer.
“There’s a couple of massive highlights. Both my 1st and 50th caps for Wales will always be special as I never though I would achieve either of them!
I am very proud of my goal scoring record for Wales and so I would have to say that. Becoming the country’s all-time top goal scorer is something that I could only have dreamed of. I hope I can return to that level and keep on adding to the tally.”
She was full of praise for her family and friends who supported her through her pregnancy both with her 1st and 2nd child which has called a temporary halt on her footballing career.
Ward also admitted that it can be difficult in the early stages of trying to balance motherhood and the footballing career she has.
It can be difficult, especially in the early days when you are tired from the sleepless nights and all of the emotions that come with motherhood but I have the best people around me who have always been so supportive and accommodating of my football career and they do everything they can to allow me to carry on playing.
On her return from giving birth to her first child, Ward made her return to the Wales side in just over a month but it didn’t come without issues having not trained for a number of months.
“I was back in light training after around 6 weeks and back at a Wales training camp after 9 weeks. I found, however, that I was suffering from diastasis recti which is when your abdominal muscles separate from the pressure of the baby.
I had to rehab that and gently build up my training load. My first game came after around 4 and a half months. ”
Ward had originally signed for Yeovil in 2017 but had to withdraw after announcing her pregnancy, but she was optimistic on their chances in the WSL 1 this season.
“It will be tough for Yeovil, no doubt but the Spring Series will be huge for them as it gives them a chance to find their feet and get to grips with the level of football. They have some fantastic players though, and an incredible team spirit which will make them tough to beat and stand them in good stead for the proper season starting in September.”
Ward also spent 4 years at Reading FC and was part of the squad that won promotion to the WSL 1. She feels they should survive in the WSL 1 but does have concerns with the size of the squad compared to other teams in the division.
“I think Reading will sustain their WSL 1 status and steadily progress from last season. A few players have left but they seem to have recruited well. My only concern is that they have a relatively small squad so they may need to add one or two more before the start of the season.”
Reading have since recruited a trio of former Notts County Ladies players since, after the club folded a couple of weeks ago.
Jo Potter, Jade Moore and Kirsty Linnett have all joined the Royals and will be looking to push the team up the table in WSL 1.
Ward is optimistic for the future of women’s football and is hoping that it can push on for the future generations of the game.
“There has been progression, yes, but I think there could have been more after such a successful home Olympics. People are trying to do the right things and grow the game in the right way though, so hopefully that continues and future generations can reap the benefits.”
You can follow Helen’s progress on and off the pitch on Twitter! (helenwardie10)