Elise Hughes is one of a number of talented young players to feature for Cymru in the current UEFA Women's EURO 2021 qualifying campaign, and recently had the opportunity to pass on her experience and advice to the next generation.
Northern Ireland v Cymru
UEFA Women's EURO 2021 Qualifying Round
- Tuesday 12 November 19:45
- Seaview, Belfast
In addition to unveiling the squad for the upcoming match against Northern Ireland in Belfast (12 November), local schoolgirls recently had the opportunity to attend a press conference with Hughes, manager Jayne Ludlow and and defender Rhiannon Roberts at Colliers Park. Following a series of questions to the trio on a range of topics, they then took to the field for the latest 'Huddle' coaching session.
“For north Wales to host events like this for young girls is amazing,” explained Hughes, who only turned 18 earlier this year. “I didn't have it when I was a kid, not that it's that long ago, but in the last five years it's grown so much, especially in the north. The facility here at Colliers Park is amazing and I'm so glad that the girls here can use it. It's great to be invited down for this event, and to see so many girls enjoying football, I'm really enjoying the day.”
Cymru played out a 2-2 draw against Northern Ireland at Rodney Parade back in September, and Hughes is keen to make amends for her side conceding a late equaliser to share the points. “I think it's a good time to play them again,” she explained to FAW.cymru. “We're looking to win like we do in every game, and it's good that we get to play them again so soon after the draw. Hopefully we can put things right.
“When you come away from a game with a draw and it feels like a loss, that shows how far this team has come. We look to win every game, and when we don't do that, we're disappointed. A draw isn't the worst result in the world, and at this stage of the last campaign we had the same number of points, and we saw that as a massive positive then. We should do the same now, as we're still undefeated.”
The team claimed a valuable 1-0 win against Belarus in October thanks to a solitary goal from Rachel Rowe, and welcome back captain Sophie Ingle from injury for the latest fixture against Northern Ireland at the Seaview Stadium in Belfast. However, Natasha Harding will miss the match through injury, and the versatile Hughes may find herself covering yet another position in the side as a result.
“I haven't got a preference for positions as long as I'm playing,” she added. “I think that's been proven over my 10 caps. I've played in six different positions during that time and I'm happy to do that as long as I'm on the pitch. My preference is only to play. It's been a massive couple of years for me personally, from getting my first cap, it's gone so quick. Every game I learn something new, and that's all I can do at the moment is to keep learning, and do my best for the team.”
And that approach and attitude from the Everton players that has certainly been recognised, as in 2018, Hughes was named FAW Young Player of the Year alongside David Brooks. “I was honoured to get the award,” she explained. “I was shocked. But it's important to look ahead and move on. We've got priorities that are above individual awards, but it was an absolute honour to win it, and I'm so glad I did.”