Jayne Ludlow: 'Right decision' to leave Wales

Jayne Ludlow
Jayne Ludlow won 61 caps as a player and was described by her predecessor as Wales manager, Jarmon Matikainen, as "the most successful player Wales has ever had."

Former Wales manager Jayne Ludlow says it was "the right decision," for her to leave her role with the national side.

Ludlow, who has managed more Wales women's matches than anyone else, left her job after over six-years in charge "by mutual consent," last week.

Wales' most-capped player Jess Fishlock said the players were "sad, surprised and emotional," about the departure.

"I love the players to bits and I hope is that it is the right decision for everyone going forward," Ludlow said.

Ludlow took Wales into the top 30 in the world in her time as coach as she raised standards across the board, though Wales twice missed out narrowly on a play-off for a first major finals appearance.

She says the time is now right for her to move onto a different challenge, having already accepted a part-time advisory role with Fifa.

"As a young coach coming into a national team environment I needed to learn, I needed to learn quickly and this was a fantastic environment for me to do that," Ludlow told BBC Sport Wales.

"I have some fantastic memories of my time. It was great, the staff camaraderie, ex-team-mates of mine helping with the younger players. It has been fantastic and in many ways has given me everything I've wanted.

"But now, where I am at, where the group is at, it is the right decision to go our separate ways.

"All I can tell you for definite is I will still be their number one fan."

Ludlow, 42, a former manager of Reading, says she is not looking for a long hiatus from football.

"There is nothing concrete yet, but I am looking forward to the next challenge," she said.

"For me the main thing is how can I impact the game? How can I be more useful for the game I love, be that the women's game or football in general.

"Football has given me a fantastic life so far and hopefully will continue to do so and I can continue to impact people and get them to enjoy the game I love very much."

A new structure 'crucial'

Ludlow, who signed her last Wales contract in 2018, had overall charge of the national sides in Wales, ranging from the senior team to Wales' age grade groups.

It is understood her successor will not face the same workload, with the role likely to be streamlined to just concentrate on the senior national side, a change Ludlow welcomes.

"There are lots of factors that came into the decision [to leave], with one being the Football Association of Wales [FAW] restructuring, [which are] things that needed to happen on the women's side of the game.

"We had one group of staff, for many, many years, looking after all the age groups.

"Going forward that shouldn't be the case. The women's game has grown so much and for us to keep pace as a national team those things have to change, for our senior team to have that support.

"They want to get to major tournament qualification and need specific people looking after them in an appropriate professional environment and I look forward to that happening for them.

"It's been challenging for my staff and I. There was overlap, times when we'd be on a senior camp preparing for an under-19s camp that started two days afterwards and that was our reality.

"I am not moaning about that, it was great for six years. I loved it and was grateful for the opportunity, but now is the time for everyone to move forward and hopefully achieve great things in the future."

Jayne Ludlow
Jayne Ludlow was awarded an MBE in the 2019 Birthday Honours for services to women's football in Wales

'Pick the best possible candidate'

Ludlow joined players such as Fishlock in expressing a belief that her successor does not necessarily need to be female.

"In a way I'm glad picking the next manager isn't my decision. I think it's a potentially challenging one, but the next manager will have a great group of players to work with," she added.

"I am an advocate for female coaches, but at the end of the day, as some of the players have said, it needs to be someone with the right qualifications, background, with the knowledge of the women's game and the right intentions and I am sure that person is out there.

"Whether that person is a female or not, who knows and it is not a preference for me.

"Right now it has to be the person with the right stature and background in the game."

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