FAW National League Awards: Hear from the winners

Cardiff City’s Seren Watkins topped off a memorable campaign by taking home the Genero Adran Premier Player of the Season award at the FAW National League Awards on Saturday night.

We’ve seen Watkins transform from a combative midfielder to one who can score and assist at will this year. The former Wales U19 international has heaped praise on midfield partner Emma Beynon for allowing her to flourish this campaign, and one where she feels like she’s improved no end.

“I do feel like I’ve really upped my game this year. I have to give credit to Emma Beynon who came in this season and really helped me. With her in the midfield with me, it gives me a lot more freedom because of the quality she brings. It’s allowed me to be more attacking and I’ve added goals to my game this season.”

Llandudno’s Maddie Williams was awarded the Player of the Season award in the Genero Adran North. 

Dudno’s team have plenty of attacking talent within it, but Williams was a standout throughout the season. Twelve goals and ten assists is an excellent return for the forward, as Llandudno strode to the Adran North title.

In the Genero Adran South, it was Briton Ferry Llansawel’s Laura-May Walkley who was crowned the Adran South’s Player of the Season. Walkley had over 20 goal involvements this season, including netting in the playoff final. The creative dynamo talked about how her determination and motivation has helped her be better and better each season.

“I just think a good part of it comes down to experience and knowhow, but it’s also about having that will to win. I’m still really motivated. I’ve told everybody, I don’t turn up and play, I turn up to be the best player on the pitch, and I’ll do that with whatever I do. It could be tiddlywinks or darts; I just want to be the best. It’s that drive to be better all the time that keeps me going.”

Now for the Manager of the Season awards, and in the Genero Adran Premier, it was Cardiff City’s Iain Darbyshire who took home the prize for the second consecutive year. 

After coming so close to win the treble last season, Darbyshire’s side went that extra step this year, as they managed to record an unforgettable year. The manager credited the players and his staff for their constant desire to improve as a reason they managed to lift all three trophies.

“Last year we were one game away from completing the treble, and that hurt us quite a lot as a group. We had to improve, but we also knew all the other teams in the league would be a lot better, and they’ve all pushed us really hard this year. But what you see from our players and our staff is the fact that we’ve gotten better and better. You can’t teach that. Everyone can be so proud of what we’ve achieved this year, and it’s an incredible achievement.”

Llandudno’s Jordan Hadaway was awarded the prize in the Genero Adran North. At the start of the season, Hadaway’s task looked difficult, but with a great team around him, Dudno managed to achieve some incredible things, and they want to repeat it next season.

“I knew it wasn’t going to be easy this season and my role was to lower the age of the squad. That said, we also wanted to stay competitive, and that meant being in and around the top two. Connah’s Quay are an excellent side, but I feel like over the course of the season we’ve been more consistent in our results and performances.

“I’m surprised in what we’ve done, but so proud too. Going into next season, the aims will be the same, and hopefully we can be in the same position again.”

In the Genero Adran South, it was Briton Ferry’s Rhys James who was crowned the winner. Ferry were invincible in the league this year, scoring 55 and conceding five along the way. James and his side made up for last year’s play-off heartbreak by gaining promotion to the Genero Adran Premier this year, and the manager is full of admiration for everyone involved at the club.

“As a staff, it was a difficult one for us. We wanted to know what the character would be like at the start of the season. We never doubted the group, and from day one, I always knew the talent that we had in this squad and the potential within it. To then go on and do it after thinking about it is something different.

“To do it without losing or drawing is a massive credit to the players, but the staff behind the scenes are amazing too. They put so many hours in and I’ve got the best staff possible.”

To the Young Player of the Season awards now, and in the Genero Adran Premier, the trophy went home with Wrexham’s Lili Jones.

The Red Dragons have enjoyed a successful return to the top division, and Jones has been a crucial part of their success, often operating as the key link between the attack and the defence.

In the Genero Adran North, it was Bangor’s Menna Evans who sealed the prize. Evans topped the goals and assists charts for Bangor this season, as they finished seventh in their first season in the second tier. With a season under their belt, Evans is hoping the team can push on next year.

“I always wanted to give 100% this season for the club, and I worked really hard to try and my best for the team. I feel like my performances have got better, and that’s also down to the teammates around me. I think we did well in our first season in the Adran North. We had a lot of challenges, but I feel like we’ve adapted well.”

Pontardawe Town’s Keira Harris took home the Genero Adran South Young Player of the Season award. It’s not been the easiest of seasons for the club, but Harris has shown great improvement this year, and is eager for her team to regroup and come back stronger.

“I feel like I’ve massively improved since last season. The girls and the coaches pushed me to being the best player I can be, and my aim for this season was, whatever game I went into, to give my all. That’s what we did as a team. It has been a difficult season. We didn’t finish where we wanted to, but coming into this new season, we’ll come together as a group and work hard to improve.”

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