Exclusive: Angharad James and Being an International Star

Wales star Angharad James opens up on the importance of senior internationals and the worries of the WSL transfer window.

Angharad James is one of the most recognised players in the Wales set up. The 26-year-old boasts 79 senior caps for her country.

She made her professional domestic debut for Arsenal, featuring in the Champions League. James spoke to Her Football Hub about her rise to the highest international level and where the journey started.

“I think looking back, my first memory of football is probably playing with my friends in school. Going over the fields soon as I got off the bus from school and dragging my family with me.

“My sister wasn’t really into football but I used to promise her if she went in goal for five minutes, I’d make a daisy chain with her,” she laughed.

 “I lived and breathed football. It’s all I ever wanted to do.”

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Was Professional Women’s Football a Reality?

Despite her natural passion for football, the prospect of it being a future career never seemed a reality. That is, until the sport had some exposure.

“It was difficult at that period of my life,” James explained. “I didn’t really have a female role model as such in the game.

“Growing up, it was all male footballers on TV. Then as I grew up and heard stories about the likes of Arsenal and Everton women, it became something that you know, might just actually happen.”

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Since having this realisation, James dedicated all her time to making professional football a reality.

At 17-years-old, she walked out for Wales as a senior representative.

“When I got the email to say I was selected, I called my mum and my dad and just kept saying that it’s a dream come true.

“I always wore my Welsh jersey to train or go and watch the men play. I was always in it.”

Importance of Senior International Players

Things started to get more real for James as the call-up date approached.

“The nerves definitely started to set in,” she recalled. “What I do remember though from my first camp was Gwennan Harries.”

“Unfortunately her career was cut short due to injuries, but she made me feel so welcome really early on which helped me so much. I’ll never forget that.

The hospitality felt from Harries is something James strives to replicate towards youth players in the Wales set-up.

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“In Wales we have created that pathway now where we bring through the youngsters.

“It’s now, ‘if you’re good enough you’re old enough’. We’ve got Carrie Jones coming through – she’s 16 and a full Wales international now. She’s going to be a huge player for us in the future.

“I try to pass my experiences onto all new players. It’s so daunting as a youngster to be surrounded by a high-calibre of players and to be in a new environment. You want to try and express yourself and be learning from everyone there.”

Women’s Super League Transfer Window

Reading have had the kind of transfer window that any fan would be ecstatic with. The Royals have bolstered their squad with the additions of Danielle Carter and Emma Mitchell amongst others.

James has revealed her thoughts on adding the two veterans to the club.

“They’re experienced, talented players who will only add quality to this squad. It’s exciting times at Reading at the moment.”

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James touched on the subject of short-term contracts within the women’s game. More often than not, female players are given 1-2 years whilst the men’s game offers up to five-year deals.

“Your time can be short and your certainty of being at a club can be short and I think its part of the game now. It’s a part of women’s football.

“The most important part is welcoming new players as they come into the club. Making sure it’s an environment where they feel welcome and settle as quickly as possible.”

Qualifying for the EUROs

Wales are on the cusp of qualifying for their first ever major tournament. They are closing in on a spot in the EUROs.

James plays an important part in the current Wales side and will be crucial to the remainders of their journey.

“I think that the disappointment of our last campaign where we just missed out has made us really hungry,” she reflected.

“We’ve got off to a good start, we’re unbeaten. We’re in a really good position to qualify. If we’re ever going to do it, this is the time.

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“We’ve got so many older, experienced players in the squad that maybe only have one last campaign. They’re such important players.”

James has outlined her desire to get her hands on some silverware in the near future. She has expressed she would ‘love to win the league’ and as a result, she wants to push to win a trophy with Reading.

“I think every girl’s dream is to lift a trophy at some point in their career.

“We’ve got such a strong squad now that a trophy could be achieved, so it’s pushing towards that.”

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