This week Bill Carne chatted to Megan Thomas, who at 13 is a talented all-round sports player but excels at football with Fishguard Sports, Pembrokeshire and West Wales...

At 13 years of age Megan Thomas really enjoys a whole range of sports but it is in girls’ football that she is catching the eye as she is a proven goal-scorer with Fishguard Sports under 14s, as well as representing Pembrokeshire and West Wales for several years now.

Megan plays up front or in central midfield and her commitment is evident as she travels to Cross Hands every Wednesday evening to train with the West Wales’ squad from 7pm to 8.30pm, followed by Thursday evenings with the Fishguard Sports team coached by Matthew ‘Minty’ Lamb.

Then Friday evenings are spent at Tenby in the Pembrokeshire county squad that is coached by Geraint Thomas – and of course there are matches at the weekend where as well as the local games she has to travel to places as far afield as Bridgend and Caerphilly.

To be able to commit to such a demanding schedule needs an obvious love of playing but Megan would be the first to sing the praises for the family support she is given.

“My mum Sally is always there to take me wherever I need to be and my dad Richard is also very supportive as a former footballer and someone who now plays golf off a handicap of 9. My older brother Joe (17) also played football for Fishguard Sports 2nds for a while and also encourages me to play the game."

As far as other sports are concerned, Megan plays as goal attack or shooter for Ysgol y Preseli in a team coached by Mrs Ellen Davies and also played hockey for school and Fishguard Ladies but had to step down for a while because of her commitment to football.

She has also competed in the Pembrokeshire Schools’ Cross Country Championships at Oakwood, did well enough to represent her county in Carmarthen as the next stage and came a creditable 26th out of over 100 competitors in her age group.

She was also hugely involved in sport at her junior school, Ysgol Bro Ingli, as she played all sorts of sports like cricket during lunch time clubs and helped 5x60 officer Dan Bellis to encourage others to take part in her role as one of four Bronze Young Ambassadors chosen by him to inspire others to get involved.

But at the moment it is football which occupies Megan fully after starting out as an eight year old in the boys’ team at Fishguard Sports which was coached by Ian Chester.

“I wanted to find a sport to enjoy and mum took me along but to be honest it wasn’t great at the start and it was only when I heard one of the boys say, 'Girls don’t really play football', that it spurred me on and I’ve loved it ever since!”

After a year with The Sports a team was formed in Newport (Pembs) and Megan decided to play for The Lions alongside friends Holly Thomas and Phoebe Noott.

“We were coached by Pete English and I played in midfield, mostly in friendly matches against other clubs.

“But then Dan Bellis, who has been such a help to me, started up a girls’ team at Fishguard Sports that included girls from Bro Ingli and took us to a competition in Carmarthen, alongside Matthew ‘Minty’ Lamb, which we won.”

Megan clearly played a key role because after the match she and mum were spoken to by a scout from the West Wales Squad who invited her to attend trials for the squad, which she did at two different trials in Carmarthen and was delighted when she was chosen for the squad.

Since then Megan has been a regular in the side and proven her worth on the pitch, as she did in their most recent match against Cardiff South at Llanrumney when with five minutes left she scored the winning goal from a scorcher of a shot which left the home keeper stranded as it flew into the top corner of the net! Ask her about goals with Fishguard and she would rate her best goal for them as her first-ever headed score against Tenby as one to celebrate.

Megan has also featured prominently with ‘Minty’ as part of his team when all three age groups won their age category in the local league to complete a unique treble, and there is a special bond between the coach and his players.

As Megan told us: “He shows friendship, leadership and great sportsmanship and is a top-notch coach who also had Zac Davies and Ben Leahy as great assistant coaches as we did so well.”

It seems the appreciation is mutual because before jetting off for a holiday Mr Lamb told us,
“Megan is a terrific player who sets the tone for our squad as the regular top scorer but who leads naturally by example and encourages everyone else to show the same commitment, in games and in training.

“She has been the top scorer for the past three years but always says it’s a team game and goals only reflect the team, not the one who is up front finishing moves off."

Megan was also part of the Fishguard Sports girls’ squad who were chosen to go to Cardiff in support of ‘Minty’ as they paraded the European Champions Cup around the capital city after starting out in Cardiff Castle.

“We had a wonderful time as we walked in front of huge crowds and I was very close to Ian Rush for some of the time,” Megan told us.

She was also included in a special training session on the Astroturf at Fishguard Leisure Centre when now-Wales manager Ryan Giggs came to give them a special coaching class alongside Matthew Lamb as part of a promotional film for television.

“He gave us loads of tips and there was a special moment for me in one of the practice matches he held because I managed to score a goal and he told me he thought I was a good player!”

As well as playing for Pembrokeshire Girls’ team Megan is captain of the side at Ysgol y Preseli under the coaching of Meinir Thomas and they reached the semi-finals of the Dyfed Schools’ Championships before losing out to Ysgol Bro Myrddin in Carmarthen.

Talk to Megan Thomas for a short while and it is easy to see her involvement and we wish this modest and committed young player even more success in her play as she continues to be a true role model for other girls to follow!