By Kasey Rees
Gemma Grainger has been appointed manager of the Wales women’s team on a four-year contract.
Grainger spent 11 years working with the England women’s age group set-up as head coach of teams from under-15 to under-23 level.
She succeeds former manager Jayne Ludlow, who left the position in January after more than six years at the helm.
Ludlow had raised concerns within the Football Association of Wales that her role and her coaching department were under-resourced as they were also responsible for the Wales age group teams.
But unlike her predecessor, Grainger will only be responsible for Wales’ senior side.
“I’m proud to become Cymru’s national team manager and I can’t wait for the challenge ahead,” Grainger said.
“Every part of my career has been deliberate and thought out to build towards taking a senior team to a major tournament.
“It’s an exciting time for everyone and I’m looking forward to working with staff and players to fulfil everyone’s potential to go to the next level.
“It’s an opportunity for me and the players to write a new chapter and build on the story of women’s football in Wales.”
FAW president Kieran O’Connor said: “I am thrilled to announce Gemma’s appointment as women’s national team manager.
“Following a thorough recruitment process, we now look forward to the future with the women’s national team, with ambitions for growth and success in the women’s game in Wales.”
Lowri Roberts, head of women’s and girls football at the FAW, also welcomed Grainger’s appointment, saying: “We have made good progress across the women’s game in Wales over recent years and with Gemma’s appointment and a clear commitment from the organisation to the women’s game we are giving the team the best possible chance for success.
“Qualification for a major tournament would be the catalyst to step change growth across the entire female game in Wales – we can’t wait to get to work.”
Grainger will be in charge for the first time next month when Wales play 2023 World Cup qualifying warm-up games against Canada and Denmark.
Ludlow had held the post since 2014 and became the first manager to take charge of more than 50 Wales women’s matches.
The former Arsenal player oversaw an impressive rise up the world rankings, but Wales fell short of qualifying for a major tournament.
Grainger has been with England since 2007 and coached across various development teams, most recently leading the under-17s.
She has also spent time supporting the senior set-up at the 2017 EUROs in which the Lionesses reached the semi-finals.
She received her UEFA Pro Licence in 2016 and has managed over 90 international matches across numerous age groups.