Wales' Helen Ward: 'I won't make any rash decisions on retirement'

By Emma SandersBBC Sport
Helen Ward playing for Wales
Helen Ward played in Wales' European qualifier against Norway in Cardiff in October

Wales striker Helen Ward says she is braced for a difficult period in her career but "won't make any rash decisions" on retirement following the announcement of the latest coronavirus restrictions.

Ward, 34, who plays for National League side Watford, is unable to train or play during the latest lockdown.

The Football Association confirmed the suspension of tiers three to seven of the women's football pyramid this week.

Ward tweeted in reaction to the news on Monday, saying: "I'm seriously considering retirement".

Ward was on the bench for Wales' 3-0 win over Belarus in their European Championship qualifier on 1 December having had to train alone for three weeks beforehand.

The striker, who is the country's all-time record goalscorer with 42 goals in 89 appearances, said her tweet was "in the heat of the moment" but she is "worried" about the "lack of light at the end of the tunnel in terms of football".

"It was one of those things where the announcement was made and I thought 'right, here we go again,' she told BBC Sport.

"It was a bit different because the first lockdown in March, everybody was in the same boat. There was no football going on - men's or women's - so I didn't feel like I was losing any ground on my team-mates with Wales.

"This time around a lot of my team-mates will be able to carry on playing in either the Championship or the Women's Super League. I have always said if I retire from international football, I would retire from football altogether.

"But I won't retire, I won't make any rash decisions but I know it will be a tricky six or seven weeks ahead at least."

As well as training alone and trying to maintain fitness, Ward will have to home-school her six-year-old daughter and take care of her three-year-old son.

"This time it's a minimum of six to seven weeks where we hope to get out of lockdown then it's into a tiered system again. Will we still be in tier four? Will I be able to train and play for Watford? I don't know what will happen," said Ward.

"There's so many things going around in my head at the moment and obviously I need to speak to people to find out their thoughts.

"It's about balancing the time, making sure Emily is sat down doing some school work but also having time for her to process it. It's a very weird time for everybody. Kids are resilient and tough but I'm sure there's a million things going around in her head.

"All Charlie wants to do is see his grandparents and he's not allowed to. He doesn't understand that at all. How do you explain coronavirus to a three-year-old? It's impossible."

But Ward says she has received support and advice from her team-mates at club and country, including Wales midfielder Jess Fishlock who responded to her tweet.

"I'm fortunate that I have that around me. It is a struggle at times and hard to process. I have my moments when I'm feeling down but then I remember that it's not all bad and I have a lot of good things going for me," she added.

"I spoke to Jess [Fishlock] this morning. She is very good at offering her support to those around her so I'm very grateful for that and she was one of the first people to reply to the tweet and send me a message to check in. I'm lucky to have her on my side."