Welsh football weekly: You'll be hard pressed to find a busier footballer over the next few months than Wales women’s captain Jess Fishlock.
While many of her colleagues begin to look forward to a well-earned summer break spent on a beach with family and friends, Fishlock will be starting a new season, at a new club, in a brand new league.
Last week the 67 times capped international signed a deal that will take her from Bristol Academy, who play in the Women’s Super League, to Seattle Reign on the US west-coast and she will report for training for the first time in just a month’s time.
She won’t, however, meet her new team-mates at the club’s Washington state home.
Instead Fishlock’s first action will take place on the idyllic Japanese island of Okinawa, where the Reign warm up for the inaugural season of the National Women’s Soccer League with a fixture against Japanese league winners Inac Kobe Leonessa.
But before she can begin to think about that challenge, Fishlock is tasked with the more familiar duty of leading her national side in three testing games against Portugal, Mexico and Hungary as part of the Algarve Cup.
Coincidentally, it’s likely that the globe-trotting midfielder will meet two new Seattle team-mates Teresa Noyola and Jenny Ruiz for the first time when she leads her Dragons out against Mexico on March 7.
And, importantly, the 26-year-old insists that, despite signing for a club thousands of miles away, she will lead her country in the forthcoming World Cup qualifiers and beyond.
“We’ve got a friendly in the first week of April and it’s already been sorted out for me to come home and play in that,” Fishlock told the Morning Star this week.
“We’re preparing for a World Cup campaign and that’s vitally important for me, so my commitment to Wales won’t change at all.
“It never has. When I was in Australia (playing for Melbourne) I flew home for the game against Holland and that was just a friendly game. So my commitment is still there, 100 per cent.”
The star, who was voted as player of the year in the WSL last season, also wants to play an important ambassadorial role in the Uefa under-19 European Championships that Wales will host this summer.
Not only is the event a breakthrough for women’s football in Wales, but given it’s the first major tournament to take place in god’s country, it can also be seen as an indication that the Football Association of Wales is now making
genuine progress under fresh leadership.
Fishlock is realistic that while the senior team are taking “massive strides” toward qualification, she might never get the chance to play in a major tournament like the one coming to Wales in April.
“It’s just huge, I can’t explain how big it is. They’ll be playing against the best players in the world in a final tournament environment. That might never happen again.
“I hate to compare, but there’s players in the men’s team, the likes of Ryan Giggs, who’ve never been a part of a major tournament. Ever.
“I hope it happens for me, but I might never experience it either.”
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